Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DIY: Chalkboard Menu

I see these cute Chalkboard Menus on Pinterest ALL of the time and I thought to myself, "I can totally make that." Boy, was this easy! I was cruising Hobby Lobby one day and saw this framed kitchen decor on clearance for 70% off and thought the size and the frame were perfect! Then I just picked up a can of chalkboard spray paint with my 40% coupon. I had painter's tape already at home- and that was all I needed! (Btw, this was apparently a REALLY good dinner week at our house when I took this picture!)

First, I covered the whole frame with painters tape to protect it during the spray painting.  The corners were already covered in plastic, so I just taped around them.  If you had a frame where you could just remove the glass that would be really easy, however this one was already gallery framed so I had to tape it.

Then, I just took it out side and spray painted.  I used several coats.  I completely covered the glass, then let the paint dry completely and covered it again.  You can pretty much tell when you have enough on there.  I also tested it by writing on it with chalk and erasing it to make sure it looked good.

Here's what the finished project looks like in my house. 
 It's perfect for the little wall between the garage entrance and the breakfast nook area.

Have you ever made any other chalkboard paint projects?

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Delish Dinners: Chicken Pot Pie Empanadas

I love finding recipes that use Rotisserie chicken!  Not having to cook the chicken really cuts back on the time needed to makes these and makes is a simple dinner.  That's ALWAYS what I'm looking for in a dinner recipe.  (I guess that's why I found this recipe on the Real Simple website!)  Since I'm going back to work next month I'm really trying to find some fast dinner recipes that will work for my family.  The simpler the better- less dishes to clean, less time to spend cooking, more time to spend with my little guy when I get home from work.  If you're a Costco member, they make the best rotisserie chickens that are only $5 which also makes this dinner super affordable.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon flour 
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 10-ounce bag of frozen peas and carrots
1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded 
salt and pepper 
2 refrigerated 9-inch pie crusts (I use Pillsbury)

Preheat your oven to 400° F.  

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Slowly stir in the chicken broth and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots, shredded chicken, and some salt and pepper. Remove from heat. 

Cut each pie crust in half.  Then, spoon the chicken mixture over one side of each half-circle, leaving about a ½-inch border. Using your fingers, wet the border with water. Fold the crust over the chicken. Press the edges to seal. Make three 1-inch slits in the top of each. 

Put the empanadas on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown about 15 to 18 minutes.

These are so good!  I always thought the best part of Chicken Pot Pie was the crust and with these you get some crust in every bite.  Perfection!  I think your kids will love these too.
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Make Your Own Sensory Bag for Baby

For some reason I always feel like my little guy needs new stuff to play with.  I don't know why because he has a TON of toys (he's my mother in law's only grandchild).  I saw this sensory bag on Pinterest and I thought it would be the perfect thing to make for Baby Boy to play with and explore! Plus, I knew it would be something that would expand his sense of sight and touch.
All you need is a ziploc bag (I used a freezer bag), some bottles of cheap dollar store hair gel, duct tape, and whatever little trinkets you want to put in your bag.  I used some pom poms, little bells, buttons, silly bands, a few beads, and some little jewelry shapes.  Almost all of these things can be bought at the dollar store or it might even be lying around your house!
 This is so easy to do!  Open the bag, squirt in a bottle or two of hair gel (I used 1 1/2 bottles), and throw in anything you want to put in there. (Just make sure it's not something that is so sharp it could pierce the bag.)  Then, close the bag making sure to get out as much air as possible.  Then, seal the bag with duct tape.  I sealed all the sides just to be extra careful.  And, of course, always supervise your little one just in case a leak strikes. ;)
My little guy is 10 months old and he liked playing with this.  He really liked poking at the bells that were in there and squeezing the bag.  I think this will be something that he likes even more as he gets older.  Babies are so curious and looking at all of the little things in this bag and squishing and holding it really satisfies that curiosity.  I even taped this to the sliding glass door so he could stand and explore with the light shining through it.
You could make a sensory bag for so many different themes and to fit lots of different ages.  If you have an older child, they could definitely help you make this! You could put all different colored pom poms or beads and do a color bag to help your toddler learn colors. Or, to help with letter identification, make a bag with all different letters so your child could hunt for a certain letter.  You could even put a drop or two of blue food coloring in the gel and make an ocean themed bag with shells and little underwater animals.  I've even seen a glow stick sensory bag!  The ideas are endless!
What kind would you want to make?
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Delish Dinner: Italian Chicken

This name isn't very creative, but it says what it is- chicken with some Italian flare. This is so so easy to make for an simple, healthy dinner.  Plus, it's only a few ingredients to remember to pick up at the grocery store.  Grocery shopping is one of most dreaded chores, so the fewer the better!  I've actually made this twice in the last two weeks since it's so good and simple to prepare.  I pinned this recipe from Our Story.

1 small can or jar of artichoke hearts (I've tried plain and marinated and I like the plain better.)
4-5 plum tomatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper
chicken breasts
shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop and core your tomatoes, thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic, and drain your jar of artichokes.

Place the tomatoes, garlic, and artichokes in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons with olive oil, 2 Tbsp. of flour, 1 tsp. of sugar, and a generous amount of salt and pepper and mix together.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish.   
Add the tomato mixture to the baking dish with the chicken.  

Bake at 350 degrees until chicken is almost done.  (This time varies depending on the size of your chicken breast- it's usually around 40 minutes for me.)

Take out the almost done chicken and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.  Continue cooking under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

That's it!  I usually serve this with a salad and garlic bread.  Enjoy!
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Nuby Bug-a-Loop Teether Review

The Bug-a-Loop teether by Nuby provides a variety of textured surfaces for baby for biting and teething purposes.  This teether is engineered with raised, offset surfaces that assist in the eruption of teeth by gently massaging your infant's gums.  Don't worry about these bugs, the soft colorful surfaces are great for teething and entertaining your little one!

We've had this teether for awhile now and Baby Boy was in LOVE with this teether while he was cutting his first two teeth.  He was a pretty late teether (he didn't get his first tooth until he was 8 1/2 months old) and a week before that first tooth poked through he was "playing" with this teether non-stop.  This teether is also super cute and colorful.  All of the beads have a different texture and the cord it's made of is really strong, so there's no worry that it will ever break!  It's also bendy and easy for babies to grab and hold onto.  Another feature that I love about this is that it's really easy to wash and wipe off all of the surfaces for cleaning.  Baby Boy brought this everywhere for awhile and, of course, that means it was dropped everywhere too.  I was always able to easily wipe this off quickly for Baby Boy to keep on playing! Overall, we were really happy with this teether choice!


Follow & Connect:  You can Like Nûby on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Buy It:  You can buy the Nûby Bug-a-Loop Teether at,,,,,,  BuyBuy Baby, Sears, Target and other online retailers.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Baby J Company Play Pad Review

I was so excited to have the opportunity to review a Baby Play Pad by Baby J Company!
Baby J Company is a stylish Etsy shop that specializes in adorable Baby Play Pads in minky and designer fabrics.   
They just launched their awesome new website too!

Baby J Company started after the owner, Jennifer, became a new mom. She attended some mommy and me classes and play groups, armed with just a blanket for her son to lie on. After class, she would fold up her blanket and stick it in the diaper bag, knowing that once she got home it would have to go straight into the laundry basket. She knew there had to be a better way!  So, she designed a play mat that would help her solve this problem.  The Baby J play mat is super soft on one side for your baby to play and lie on.  The other side is a modern and chic fabric design.  The best thing about this play mat is that the side your baby plays on NEVER has to touch the floor!  That makes this play pad totally perfect for new germ-a-phobe moms!

I chose the Baby J Play Pad in Micheal Miller Zoology on one side and a soft gray minky fabric on the other side for review.

The play pad is made with Michael Miller 100% cotton fabric, plush batting and baby friendly minky fabric.  I love the hippos, giraffes, elephants, frogs, and birds on this chic fabric.  Plus, the colors are modern and perfect for a boy or a girl too.  It would be a perfect baby present for a new mom who is waiting to be surprised on the big day!  

  This play pad blanket measures 29”x35” and features a Velcro closure that ensures that one side of the blanket always stays nice and clean for your baby. This is great for mommy and me class, play dates, or anywhere you go where you will want to make sure your baby has a clean surface to play and roll around on. When folded and closed, the play pad measures about 14”x8”x5”.   This is so easy to fold up so it's kept completely sanitary for your baby to play on.  Just fold it in half with the minky side together.  Fold it half again.  Then fold one more time and the velcro keeps it securely closed. No matter where you put it, the side for baby to play on always stays clean and never touches the floor. 

Baby Boy loved sitting and playing on this adorable play pad!  The minky was so soft and he was always touching it and I just absolutely love that the side he's on is clean no matter what.

Follow & Connect:  You can Like Baby J Company on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Buy It:  You can purchase a play pad on their website or Etsy shop.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Firecracker Cake Mix Cookies

I'm all about easy and these cookies are it!  Plus, they taste almost exactly like Publix sugar cookies.  Kids will LOVE these!  Not to mention, these cookies can be made to fit any color theme or holiday just by changing the color of the sprinkles.  Obviously, these firecracker cookies called for some red, white, and blue sprinkles for the Fourth of July.
1 box of vanilla cake mix
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder.
In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture.
Then stir in the sprinkles.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookies sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
This makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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