Monday, September 26, 2011

Time Saving Tip!

Have you ever browned hamburger in your crock pot??  This is something new I have started doing and I am loving it.  It makes dinner time much quicker when you already have your hamburger done or you taco meat ready.  Let me introduce you to 3 of my favorite things:

  1. Crock Pot Liners ~ makes for easy clean up!
  2. My Crock Pot!
  3. The Pampered Chef Mix N Chop ~ helps break up the hamburger into small pieces

Put 4 to 5 lbs of ground beef in your crock pot and break it up into small pieces.  (This is 3 lbs ground beef and 1 lb ground turkey.)  Turn your crock pot on high for 4 hours.  Mix and Chop your meat every 1/2 hour to hour, or whenever you remember.

after about an hour or so

All finished!  Now is the tricky part, draining the grease.  You could get a pan and put a strainer inside and pour the meat in the strainer so that all the grease goes in the pan.  Then disgard the grease.  What I did this time was take out the liner and poke holes in the liner and then let it pour into my grease container.

Be careful if choose this method, the meat and grease is hot.

Then you can separate the meat out into freezer Ziploc bags.  Let the meat cool and then put it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.  I have also returned 1/2 of the meat back to the crock pot and added taco seasoning as directed and then let it sit in the crock pot on low for 1/2 an hour.  Then I separated the meat into bags and froze it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Barbeque Teriyaki Chicken

Here is a chicken recipe for the grill.

Barbecue Teriyaki Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle Kikkoman Teriyaki Glaze (make sure you get the glaze)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Marinate your chicken in the teriyaki glaze (about 1/2 a bottle) for an hour.  Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup teriyaki glaze, garlic powder and pepper.  You will use this as a baste for the chicken.  Grill your chicken.  Brush the baste on your chicken while it is cooking.  Cook until the chicken is no longer pink.  Serve over rice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Almost Rotisserie Chicken ~ National Chicken Month

My family and I have been enjoying some new chicken dishes this month.  Now it is time for you to try them out.  Here is a crock pot dinner.  (Come back tomorrow for another easy chicken dish.)

Almost Rotisserie Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (Even though I don't like chicken on the bone, I know I am weird, I think this one would be better with chicken legs or thighs.  You can even put a whole chicken in if you would like.)
Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 potatoes
2 cups baby carrots

Take one large piece of foil and place your potatoes on it and then top with the carrots.  Roll it up so that no potatoes or carrots are showing.  Get an extra piece of foil if need be.  Place this on the bottom of your crock pot.  Place the chicken on top of the foil so that the chicken will not be sitting it its own juices.  Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning salt and pepper. 

Cook on High for 4 hours or until chicken juices run clear.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22...Elephant Appreciation Day

Did you know that a special treat to an Elephant is a pumpkin?  How appropriate that we are entering the pumpkin season.  Enjoy this story about The Elephant Caper......

The Great Elephant Caper

The Unsuspecting Victim: Innocent and unaware of the fate that awaits him, this 400 pound pumpkin lies just outside the Elephant compound at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, N.Y. We have been unable to identify the local grower. Zoo Director Larry Sorel said they have fed the elephants Jack O'Lantern sized pumpkins before. And they are a special treat for the elephants. But, they have never given a pumpkin so large to them. Speculation abounds as to how the elephants will react. There are ample witnesses to the crime that is about to occur.
The Suspects: We really know these two crafty criminals are guilty until proven innocent. Can you see the guilty look on the suspects face? While they are large, they are not "at-large".
The Willing Accomplices: Is this the "Get Away Vehicle"? ..... Nope. It's all part of an elaborate and diabolical plot to "set up" the victim.
The "Set-Up": It took five big thugs to slide this 400 pound pumpkin into the middle of the crime scene. They have been offered immunity for their testimony and are now in protective custody.
Caught in the Act?: No, not yet anyway. We think this is a form of ancient ritual to the elephant gods preying that the pumpkin be fresh and good tasting.We believe next week they will be taught to "roll over" and "sit". The Zoo Director says the elephants could smell the pumpkin from quite a distance so they are very excited. And, I am sure that pumpkin tastes better than the oak leaves they were nibbling on before the victim arrived.
Casing out the Joint: Errr, sniffing the prize is what's really going on. We wonder how long it will take before the crime is committed? Is it too big for these little puppies? Will they walk away? Maybe they will toss them around like a big beach ball. Read on...
The Crime is committed: Once at the scene of the crime, the elephants wasted no time. I am sure they were thinking about a quick get away. After about thirty seconds of sniffing, one elephant stuck his (or her) tusk into the pumpkin. Then, to add insult to injury, he (again or she) stepped on the pumpkin and crushed one side leaving a gaping hole. Does anyone know the number for the ASPCP American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pumpkins?
Playing with the Victim: The pumpkin was rolled around and stepped on a few times. Okay, any idea what part of the pumpkin the elephants went after first? The seeds and pumpkin brain were the favorite. After pickings became slim, they went for the smaller broken chunks. We do not know if this means they preferred the seeds and brains or were saving the best for last. You make the call.
And now, for the rest of the Story: We have been told, that the getaway was spoiled and the suspect are now "in the pen". There were plenty of eye witnesses and they were even caught on camera so a conviction is assured. There was talk about "a jury of his peers", but a large enough court room could not be found. It is believed they will get a life sentence behind bars.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homemade Bakeable Clay

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Cold Water (may need a little more)
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
Optional: Food coloring (color dough before baking)
Knead well until you can form a smooth ball.
Then roll out the clay with a rolling pin and cut shapes with cookie cutters, or mold into shapes by hand.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees – or until the shapes are hard.

Paint with acrylic paint and then finish with a coat of clear spray paint or shellac to make them last a long time.
Ideas: Before baking make a hole at one end for key chains and jewelry. Make ornaments, refrigerator magnets, animals or anything you can imagine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

International Talk Like a Pirate

My friend, Melanie, writes an amazing blog.  She has 3 young boys, and is a wealth of ideas and information about things to do to keep 3 boys busy.  Please enjoy this post from her blog.

Arrr Matey! We are planning some fun activities and treats for International Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19). John Baur and Mark Summers came up with the idea to talk like pirates for a day, and it spread fast when Dave Barry wrote about it in his column in 2002. For more great pirate ideas, check out this site, an actual talk like a pirate website! They have an entire list of pirate sites on the left side of their page. We had fun playing games on this site. Arrresome!

A few ideas that we've heard about so far:
Say arrr a lot - to the point of annoying others.
Wear argyle socks.
Eat at Arrrby's.
Click on this link for actual pirate words - love it!
My son had a pirate birthday party a few years ago, so we will be pulling out some fun decor and wearing eye patches! I'm hoping to plan a scavenger hunt, and may have fish tacos for dinner!

Check out these great books for inspiration:

Love this ABC adventure...

And one of our favorites by a favorite, David Shannon:
(anything with diapers is usually a hit around here!)

Anyone ever have this kind of a day?

Arrr - a pirate's life for me!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Embellishing a Hat

I'm sure you have all seen the little knit hats that come in a variety of colors for babies and young girls.  Last week I decided to look for a way to embellish them.  I found this cute pic on a blog.  The knit hats can be found for about $4.00.  Add some fun ribbon or tulle and weave it through the hat and tie a bow.  This is the perfect way to add some life to a hat and make the perfect outfit.

National Sewing Month/Upcycled T-shirt Dress

Upcycled T-shirt Dress

1.  Take a t-shirt and cut the bottom half off. This shirt is a size 5T

2.  Find 3 or 4 t-shirts that are larger than a 5 T.  Adult and teen shirts will work well.

3.  Cut the larger t-shirts into 2- 3 inch strips.  It is fun it the shirts have screen printing or patterns on it.
4.  Sew the strips together in the pattern you want the skirt of the dress to be.  I sewed wrong sides together so that the seams would be on the outside of the shirt.  You can do it either way.  I like the look of the "ruffle like" seams on the outside.

5.  Measure the top shirt that you have already cut.  Fold the sewn together strips in half.  Take the measure ment of the top shirt and add 1/2 inch seam allowance and cut your striped skirt to that measurement.  If you want an a-line skirt, start with that measurement at the top, and graduate out.

6.  Sew the skirt side together.  Pin it to the top shirt and sew together.  Knit doesn't fray, so you can leave the bottom hem alone, or use the bottom of a t-shirt that is already trimmed for the last strip on the skirt.

I added a little t-shirt strip swirl flower to the top of this dress for a fun accent.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Caramel Apple Dip

It is National Apple Month and nothing reminds me more of fall than caramel apples.

Caramel Apple Dip

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix above ingredients together in a bowl with an electric mixer.  Use as a dip for sliced apples or other fruit.  It would be good with graham crackers too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grandparents Day-September 11th

Grandparent's Day is celebrated in September, on the first Sunday following Labor Day. Founded by Marian McQuade, her primary purpose was to was to celebrate and and honor the lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to encourage grandchildren to inherit the wisdom and heritage from their grandparents. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter made it a national holiday.

Ideas for Creating fun memories with grandparents:
Family History Scroll
The extended family's history scroll is shipped from one relative to another in a mailing tube. Each family adds a paragraph or so about what happened to them since the previous go-round that might be of interest to others. Generally, the messages are hand scribed, but may be typed and snapshots pasted on or attached with plastic adhesive tape.
When a scroll becomes too large for easy handling it may be retired and stored with one of the family members and a note added to the next scroll stating where the preceding scroll is stored.

Reading books about Grandparents
Below you will find a thematic book list for Grandparent's Day or added to a unit study about Family. These books may be found at your local public or school library. For your convenience, ISBN numbers, book reviews and related links have been provided on each detail book page.
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - AbuelaAbuela ( English with Spanish Phrases)
by Arthur Dorros
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Funny, You Don't Look Like a GrandmotherFunny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother
by Lois Wyse
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Grandfathers are Like GoldGrandfathers are Like Gold
by Janet Lanese
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Grandmothers Are Like Snowflakes...No Two
                    Are AlikeGrandmothers Are Like Snowflakes...No Two Are Alike : Words of Wisdom, Gentle Advice, & Hilarious Observations
by Janet Lanese
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Grandparents Are Special Grandparents Are Special
by Lucy Mead
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Grandparents Day Grandparents Day
by Nikki Tate, Benoit Laverdiere
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - GrandparentsGrandparents
by Roser Capdevila
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - Just Grandparents: When a Child is Born, So are the GrandparentsJust Grandparents: When a Child is Born, So are the Grandparents
by Bonnie Louise Kuchler
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - That's What Grandparents Are ForThat's What Grandparents Are For
by Arlene Uslander, Freddie Levin
Fun Grandparents Day Books for Kids - The Gifts of Being GrandThe Gifts of Being Grand
by Marianne Richmond

Read Along With Grandparents
Something fun my mom has done with my kids is read over the phone.  Carolyn would get on and select a story.  She called grandma and grandma got on and pulled up the same story and Carolyn could read to her.  Another fun thing would be to have grandparents record a story including the instructions to turn the page.  The grandparent could send the book and the recording to the child and they can have grandma or grandpa read them a story anytime they wanted. is a  great wesite for fun ideas.  Here is a link to a bunch of coloring pages about grandparents.

Send them a friend Traci, (I hope she doesn't mind that I used this pic of her adorable kids) sent this to her dad who lives far away, for Father's Day.  She stuck it in a little frame, and sent it.  I'm sure he LOVED this. 

However you decide to celebrate Grandparents Day, don't forget to celebrate your grandparent everyday.

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