Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cork board Chore Chart

At the request of my children I have been looking into different chore charts. I just couldn't figure out what was best for us: paper chart with star stickers (which is what the kids want but I despise), jars with gumballs/change/whatever to get there attention, magnetic charts for the fridge....GAH!!!

What to do, what to do.

I wanted something cheap because if pieces got lost or something I would be irritated. I needed to be able to customize it but it also needed to grow with us (what they are strong in this month may not be the case next month).

So I thought a corkboard will do - it was on sale at Target for about $7. I bought brightly colored pins for just under $2. I can tack up whatever I need them to do - try new foods, pick up toys, toothbrush clean up, homework, etc. and then use the pins as a way to keep track. It's not a huge eye sore and as they get older the corkboard can serve different purposes. I remember my one friend from grade school used to have to check the corkboard when she got home from school. It was a central place where her parents would leave a list of chores, important messages, etc.

I look at it and want the squares to be perfect and blah, blah but it can't be perfect. The reality is little hands will be all over that thing and pins will be lost, squares will get torn, etc. I have to remember that the purpose of the chart is to teach them accountability not look pretty in my kitchen.

I will keep you posted on how it works for our household. Got a system that work for your family? I would love to hear it!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Brunch Ideas

I love brunch!!!

I did this last year for Mason's birthday but thought it would work well for Christmas too.

Pictured below is:

Belgium waffles cut into quarters and placed in a plastic cup (bottom filled with maple syrup). You can make the waffles the day before and stick them in the fridge to save time. If you don't have a huge table where your guests will be all sitting this is a great grab-n-go idea. I have eaten eggnog french toast (substitute your milk for eggnog) every Christmas morning for the last 25 years. That would work in cups too - just cut the bread diagonally or into strips before sticking them in the cups.

Red potatoes dressed in EVOO, S&P and fresh rosemary. Roasted.

Strawberries and blackberries on a stick and stuck in a plastic cup (bottom filled with your fav fruit dip. This is just homemade whip cream). I was really surprised at how the kids reacted to the berry cups - they couldn't wait to pick one out!

Bacon and biscuits and gravy are also pictured.

I bought this green Styrofoam cone at Joann's and stuck doughnut holes all over it. It was getting devoured so quickly that I couldn't get a picture of it when it was completely filled. The kids kept asking, can we eat it or is it just for decoration??

 Although its not pictured we had plenty of drinks at the brunch: punch for the kids (softened rainbow sherbert, pineapple juice, 50/50), mimosas and of course damn good coffee!!!

Spreading Christmas Cheer Part 3

We started making cookies - just a run through for the big day. The boys want to make special cookies for Santa.

I make Spritz every year. I love making circles out of them because then I can make them a snowman, santa suit (with belt) or ornament. I thought making a triple cookie would be fun for the boys. 

I bought some stencils so we were practicing with them. I think the red sugar Santa turned out best. The snowman is my favorite.

First time making peanut butter fudge. Can't stop eating it!!

Got my Buckeyes!

Rudolph Day or Grinch Day

Max the elf painted everyone's nose red last night. Silly Elf. It got me thinking that we should have a Rudolph day today to kick off Christmas Break.

So we made Rudolph pancakes for breakfast, decorated Rudolph cookies and watched Rudolph on TV. I thought I had chocolate covered pretzels for the cookies and I couldn't find them. Mason suggested candy canes and it worked out great!! Happy reindeers all around!

Brant had Grinch Day at school last week. He wore a green shirt, they ate Grinch cupcakes and made Grinch pictures. He had such a great time that he wanted to share Grinch Day with all of us. So we ordered a pizza, watched the Grinch and made Grinch Floats. It was fun and something different to do on our pizza-movie night.

In each 8oz glass I pour a generous splash of Lemon-lime HI-C drink, a few scoops of lime sherbert and topped it off with 50/50 pop.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quick Fancy Calzone

I bought 2 chuck roasts from Costco and I slow-cooked them at once. I shredded the meat and made a couple of different meals but this one is my FAVORITE. I hadn't made it in awhile because I go through phases on how I feel about buying puff pastry. I love the way it can change a dish but hate the price. So I was on strike for a while. But this my friends is a must-make!! 

My beef was ready to go so in a skillet I just browned about 1/4c each of chopped: roasted red pepper (from a jar to save time), onion, fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley and mushroom; 2 cloves of minced garlic (start with these measurements you can always add more - it depends on how much beef you have left over. I had approx 1 1/2c-2c of shredded beef). 

I rolled out my thawed puff pastry - just one sheet. I layered provolone cheese slices (another Costco buy I was trying to burn through), topped with beef and then my vegetables, then another layer of cheese. I folded the sides in and sealed the top and bottom. I cooked it for about 20-25 min on 400 - until it was caramel brown.

It's basically a high-end Calzone but this will get devoured by your family. Enjoy!

p.s. I also had some leftover ham and did the same thing. Layered provolone cheese, then my ham and wrapped it in the puff pastry. Big hit!

I think if you buy a box of puff pastry and make the beef and ham version, they would make great apps to bring to a holiday party.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Buckeye Sundae

I made those Buckeyes today. Favorite thing ever. I had some leftover and decided to use it as a topping for my vanilla ice cream. I HIGHLY recommend it!!

Here is what I did but any recipe you use to make Buckeyes will work. The sauce turned out so good that I had to share!!

PB filling:
I mixed a stick of softened butter, 2c of crunchy PB and 2c of powered sugar together (with a wooden spoon). I then folded in 2c of rice krispies.

Chocolate Sauce:
Never fails I always have trouble melting chocolate chips I have no clue what I do wrong. I always thought, ok its the wax/oil in the chips so when you bake it they hold their shape. But no one seems to have a problem like I do.
In a sauce pan I had 1/4 bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips, 3/4 bag semi-sweet chips and a bag of dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips (60%). It was thick and pasty as usual. I was getting frustrated so I added a 1/2 stick of butter - it melted and continued to be thick. I transferred the chocolate glob into a small bowl, washed out the pan I was using and added about 1/3c of heavy cream to the pan. As it started to heat up I threw in a heaping scoop of the chocolate paste and whisked it. I continued adding until  it was this amazing consistency. I'm not sure what it is - somewhere between a ganache and homemade hot fudge. The taste reminds me of my grandmas frosting.
I have never made a ganache before but if this is what it tastes like I'm making it whenever I can. I left it out in the pan and it never hardened. It still looks glossy and gorgeous. When warm it worked great for my buckeyes. It made a great shell on them when stuck in the fridge. When the sauce cooled it was perfect over my ice cream - had the consistency of a great hot fudge.

But lets focus on the real topic here, shall we?

The PB buckeye filling crumbled over your favorite vanilla ice cream (mine is Valpo Velvet. Whole foods sells this for about ten bucks for a half gallon. Stracks has amazing sales on it though. This week it's $4.99 so I couldn't pass up some vanilla.) and then topped with this fudge sauce will cure any PMS or pregnancy craving. It will also cure any bad moment or day. That is all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Cheer: Part 2 "Elf on the Shelf"

A family friend bought us an Elf on a Shelf and the kids are thrilled. I have had a lot of fun and the kids can't wait to see what Max is up to! Obviously Jaxon reading to Max is my favorite.

Max delivered Reindeer food to the boys

Max painted everyone's nose red to make them look like Rudolph - silly elf!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Joy's Holiday Pot and Garland

I had some amazing, much needed sista time last week with Joy. "Twin Time" as my friend would joke. We stopped in Gethsemane Garden Center, in Andersonville, which is by far our favorite place to get Christmas decor. You would have to be a real scrooge not to get into the holiday spirit once you enter that place. The smell of Christmas Trees is intoxicating - if someone handed me a peppermint hot cocoa to sip on I may not be able to walk a straight line. Gorgeous trees (that are apparently cut within 48 hours of shipping), ornaments, wreaths - you name it Gethsemane has it.
Joy bought a Rosemary tree for ten bucks. She put it in a Terra cotta pot, that she had previously transformed into a holiday pot. I love it!! My favorite part of the pot is the furry rim. The snowberries and pine totally stand out against the white wall. It looks awesome!!

Spreading Christmas Cheer Part 1

The boys are so excited for Christmas - it's really fun this year. They get it now. Santa is C-O-M-I-N-G! So to keep them busy with excitement this is what we have been doing various activities together.

We made wreaths. The boys wanted to hang it on their doors to show Santa that they have Christmas spirit - which I thought was too cute.

Just construction paper, glue, glitter and any beads you have laying around.

I found this mitten kit at Target for a buck. Brant loved it and added it to his door for all to see.

Mason hung his wreath right above the couch. He also picked out this light bulb garland for a $1 at Target and I think it looks adorable hung on the wall. 

Best part of this wreath project for me was to let the boys decorate the house they way they wanted to. I love hearing them get excited about their ideas and seeing them feel proud about how everything turned out. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Homemade Popsicle Snowman ornament

Got Popsicle sticks?

You can line up about 7 or 8 sticks, squeeze some glue at the top and then place a stick across them. Let it dry. Then start making your snowman. 
We used black construction paper for the hat but you can use felt, leftover material, etc. Mason picked out the ribbon and pom-pom for the hat. We originally had black pom-poms for the mouth but switched it out for a pipe cleaner instead - use whatever you have though. Glue a ribbon on the back to make an ornament. 
It makes a cute, homemade gift.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reindeer Craft Project Gone WRONG!!

I saw these reindeer pinecones in a catalog and thought I can make that!
Well as it turns out... I, uh, can't. 

But Brant looked at the pinecones and started making a tree out of it. Pom-poms for ornaments and pipe cleaners for lights. I thought that was so creative!! Way to save the day Brant!!

Ice Cream Cone Ornament

Since my boys get so excited about ice cream, I thought we could make ice cream cone ornaments. This project is cheap and easy to do with the kiddos.

I bought a pack of sugar cones from Target for $1.25. 
Glue your ribbon to the inside of the cone first so you can hang it on the tree.
I wanted to use that fluffy, fiberfill for the ice cream part but I didn't have any on hand so I just used a large pom-pom. 
We glued a small red pom-pom for the cherry and then sprayed it with adhesive and rolled it in glitter.

I put the cone in a small saucepan with a paper towel on the bottom so it could dry standing up.

Homemade Cinnamon ornaments

LOVE this project!! I ran across it in an old Disney Family Cookbook I have from the 90s. I have a costco-sized cinnamon container so finding 3/4c of cinnamon wasn't any trouble for me. Just a heads up.

1/2c applesauce
3/4c (3oz) of ground cinnamon
2 1/2 TBSP Elmers glue

This will make 5-6 ornaments

Mix together in a bowl

Roll into a ball with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

I dusted my surface with cinnamon so it wouldn't stick and rolled it out to about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out desired shape with cookie cutter.

We used a straw to make a hole at the top.

I put them on a cooling rack and let them air dry for 2 days in Jaxons closet away from Maley madness. You could try to speed up the drying process by using your oven (set on warm) but since mine runs hot I didn't want to chance them breaking.