Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Transforming Corners In Your Home

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

I can’t believe that we have lived in our home 11 years now. What I saw as just our temporary residence until something better came along has now become our forever home as we inch closer and closer towards paying it off.  This is the longest I have lived anywhere and I am so proud of the updates that we have made to our space and creating a place that we can be proud of and share with our family and friends.

Tackling a big renovation on your space can feel daunting and overwhelming. When I look around there is so much that I wish I could do, but just isn’t in our budget. The good news is that small switches in your home can still make improvements to your space that can sit sweetly in your budget and time constraints.

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

Walmart challenged me to refresh a corner in my home using some items from their store and I knew exactly which corner in my home I wanted to tackle. This corner is where I live during the school year. You will find me happily flipping through library books between getting my kids off to school and on their buses or spending my evenings knitting and sipping tea in this chair in the evenings.  The wall has had these three black-and-white pictures of shoes on it for ten years and I find that as I get older and develop my style more, I am drawn to lighter and brighter things in my home, rather than the masculine tones and colors that I was drawn to before.

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

I decided to brighten up the space with a few things we had around our house (rearranging, after all is always the most budget-friendly option), to add a few fresh picks from Walmart that would fit in my budget, and then combine it with our love for great art.  At Walmart, I found two throw pillows for my chair, beautiful picture frames for under $20, a fiery red flower pot, and a small succulent that would require very little watering. I pulled in a light throw I had to bring in the lighter tones and moved a wreath that I had from our kitchen into the spot next to our clock.

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

The entire color scheme hinged around some beautiful prints I found from Janet Hill Studio on Etsy. If you haven’t heard of her, I would just run right over and spend your afternoon coffee with her shop.  We had so much fun picking art for our wall and her pictures were so amazing that it took my husband & I almost three weeks to come to an agreement together on which prints to select. These prints brighten up the space so much more than my black-and-white photos and are a beautiful conversation piece. I love them so much that I have asked my husband if I can have a print for my birthday each year. I want to fill my home with her art, it really makes me that happy.

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

Of course, once you start, it can be difficult to stop.  For me, it is a never ending process of rearranging and adding and taking away items in our home. My view from  the chair was rather uninteresting too so we went ahead and ordered one extra print.
Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

Transforming Corners In Your Home from MomAdvice.com.

I now have a pretty view of this beautiful piece titled, “Tallulah Shaw Rehearses Before Her Final Show. 1959.”  With our new front door and the pop of color we embraced while turning our shed into a bonus room, it is a very different hallway view from a few weeks ago.

I hope this inspires you to makeover a corner in your own home.  The beauty for me is that next week this corner could look entirely different because the joy is in the rearranging, the repurposing, and the frugal additions that can make your space so fun!

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8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

8 Fun Dresser Makeovers

 

I have so much fun gathering up ideas for repurposing items on the Goodwill Tips Blog and look forward to showcasing these ideas for you each month. Today’s post is all about a furniture staple…the dresser. I have gathered 8 fun ways you can you can makeover a Goodwill dresser that I know you will want to run right out and find this thrift store gem to create a new fun piece in your home. In fact, I can’t wait to snag a dresser myself so I can implement these ideas in my own home.

Head over to the Goodwill Tips blog and discover 8 fun ideas for dresser makeovers today!

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Easy Lunchbox Solutions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

The back-to-school season is just around the corner and today I wanted to share some easy strategies for packing those lunches this year. I have teamed up with Walmart to share three fun products that you can purchase this year for those lunchboxes: Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, Frito Lay Chips in their 20-count variety pack, and Danimals Smoothies 12-packs (that just so happen to be worth triple the Box Tops for Education points!). These are all affordable and easy additions for this year’s lunchboxes.

Here are some additional fun ideas for making lunchtime fun for your child this year:

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

Get Organized- As with all things related to back-to-school, getting organized is half the battle. Our family relies on this lunchbox creation station for creating our lunches for the week.  Take advantage of those back-to-school sales and get your lunchbox station stocked with reusable containers and baggies, water bottles, drinks, snacks and chips for the year.

As my children get older, I put more of the responsibility of lunch preparation on them and our lunchbox station really helps when assembling lunches the night before school as well as packing drinks & snacks for our extracurricular activities.

Insert Fun- Every year, I feel a little melancholy about my kids going back to school especially when we have spent so much time together in the summer. This is the perfect time to add a note to let them know how much you love them or add a comic strip and joke to an older child’s lunchbox.

If your school lunch hour is anything like our lunchtime, our kids have very little time to eat. Try to keep the gesture simple so that you can be assured that they were able to tackle their lunch and not just your note.

You can also add fun details like pretty straws, washi tape flags with special messages on them, or a fun treat like Frito Lay’s Chips & a fruity Danimals Smoothie to round out the meal. I love to use Rick Rack Scissors to trim my washi tape to add a fast & easy detail.

  Easy Sushi Sandwich from MomAdvice.com

Try a Sushi Sandwich- Have you ever made a sushi sandwich? These are so fun to create and couldn’t be easier. Grab a loaf of Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread and your favorite rolling pin. Roll the bread out thinly, but not so thin that the bread will no longer hold together. Add a few slices of your child’s favorite lunch meat and then a cheese stick in their favorite flavor (my kid’s love a swirled stick). Carefully roll this up and then slice in half with a sharp knife. For kids that don’t love sandwiches, these spin on the traditional sandwich is always a hit.

Keep Them Organized Using Their Lunchbox- Trying to keep myself organized is difficult. Keeping my kids organized too? Well, that seems even more impossible. I have found that my children rarely forget their lunches though and this is the perfect spot to clip items that they need to remember for their day. Utilize a binder clip or heavy-duty clothespin and use this spot to jot down notes of activities they need to do for the day, apparel that they need to bring for extracurricular activities, appointments they might need to be picked up for, or forms/permission slips they need to turn in to school. This has been a great system for us and helps remind us all of what needs to happen each day.

I hope you love these ideas for freshening up those lunchbox routines and wishing you easy and sweet transitions back into the swing of the school year!

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How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room (Tour Our Shed!)

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Today I wanted to share with you how we transformed our outdoor shed into a bonus room. Shed makeovers are one of my favorite things to look at, but I had never considered our own shed a bonus room until this summer.  This transformation from a shed that housed our chaos and clutter into a multi-purpose retreat is one of my proudest makeovers we have ever done on our home.

I partnered with Walmart on this project to showcase a unique idea for outdoor living. Since they partnered with me, I did my best to utilize items from their store while weaving in handmade items from some of my favorite Etsy sellers.

Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s take a tour of our shed before the makeover. As an FYI,  I did not gloss this up for you one bit. This is exactly as awful and as embarrassing as it looked. It took me twelve hours to organize our garage, six donation runs, and a whole day to empty this shed. I am ashamed how bad it had gotten, but I wanted to be honest about all of that with you. This took a lot of preparation for me to empty this and rid my life of a lot of junk to execute this space. It was worth every moment of effort.

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Our home is a late-sixties tri-level that had an attached shed on the home.  Although the shed is attached to our home, you do have to step outside to access it, but it is close enough that easy access is possible. This might be unlike  other sheds that might be residing further out from your property. After talking with our neighbor who has been a longtime resident here,  I understand that this wasn’t originally part of the home, but was an addition that had been made later to our house. Over the years, as other homeowner’s owned it things like insulation and electrical were added. The space had good bones to be a room, but no one had gotten any further than that. We have resided in this home 12 years and it only occured to me this summer that maybe we were missing out on a golden opportunity to have a unique bonus room.  After getting estimates and ideas from a few contractors, we hired All Pro Renovations to assist in transforming this dumping crowd of chaos into the room of my dreams.  They were able to address getting our space up to code and also got my vision for what I wanted to accomplish with this room.

My idea for the space was that it could be a retreat for my children during the day and a fun entertaining spot in the evenings. The most important aspect for this project was that we utilize every single inch of this 8×12 space in a thoughtful way. I wanted a bar that could fold down, flush to the wall when it was not in use. I wanted to utilize all the space that we could behind the door to house storage. I wanted furniture that could be stacked or wall mounted for entertaining.  Most of all, I wanted it to feel very modern and light-filled with a glass door and a window.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We painted the door with a bright coat of teal paint that I loved so much that we decided to paint the front door too.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We quickly figured out that when the kids were in this room that I couldn’t necessarily see that they were in there and would be hunting in the backyard for them. I added a plastic Open/Closed Sign from Walmart that I attached to the trim of the door with a 3M hook so the kids could let me know if they were in there. If they are inside it is open if they go back out to play in the yard, they flip it to closed. My daughter loves to also leave a time on the clock to let me know when she will be back.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Since our home had aluminum siding, All Pro recommended adding light with a skylight (which cost the same as adding a window), because if we damaged our siding, we would not be able to find matching aluminum siding for this home. They found a glass door that we could use for the space. They recommended doing an epoxy-paint floor with neutral tones that would be durable and ideal for this outdoor space. To warm up the floor, I added this outdoor rug in a 5’3×7’7 (an absolute steal at $77.58)   The room was drywalled, painted, and trimmed to finish out the bones of this room.  My color choice for this space was Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl for the walls (which I now what to paint my entire house in) and Benjamin Moore’s glossy White Dove for all of the trim.  Although the original intent was to add canned lighting, our ceilings were too low for the space so track lighting was installed which adds to that modern retro feel that I was going for.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

A built-in was added behind the door to make sure that every inch was used. Wine glasses, a rack, and opener are on the top shelves for evening entertaining. On the lower shelves, we have coloring books, crayons, and books. I also added a few of my favorites from our record collection and they fit perfectly on the bottom so we can use our turntable out there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The focal point of the room is this beautiful Providence Outdoor Day Bed (priced at $399) from Walmart for the back wall.  This canopy bed is so beautifully made that I almost fall asleep every night on it while I am out there. It is generously deep and the canopy element really adds an eye-catching detail to the room. I switched out the pillows with a more modern printed pillow covers that I scored on Groopdealz as one of their deals-of-the-day. I also added this Too Legit To Quit pillow from Michelle Dwight Designs to add a splash of fun to the bed. I found inexpensive pillow forms from Walmart to create cushions with style for the back of this bed.  The pillow forms are two for $5.15 and feel like expensive cushions.   This bed not only is the perfect spot for a reading nook, but it also can double as a guest room year-round for our guests. I kind of want to stay here as a guest myself.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

 

The bar can comfortably seat four people and I found retro Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools in red (2 for $159) from Walmart to complete the look.  I actually placed an additional order for two more now that I could see how many I can fit here.  All Pro Renovations created a bar that could be folded down and added a stripe of teal on the edge of my bar to add a little splash of color.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

 

We added these modern floating shelves (only $19.95) and I filled them with a few fake succulents and wove in a few of my favorite books and a fake orchid.  It creates a soothing and maintenance-free splash of color over there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The turntable I was gifted from my amazing girlfriends was placed on this pedestal table from Home Decorators and it was just the right size for this small space. I added this beautiful 30″ handmade arrow from Junk Art Gypsyz to the wall. We also added a beautiful typography piece that has the lyrics from Elton John’s, “Tiny Dancer,” to that wall.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Your question might be how we are keeping the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter? I have a great solution for you. We discovered that Walmart offers a Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit that not only act as an air conditioner, but a one piece solution for air conditioning, heating, and dehumidifying. The best part is that it can be set on a timer so you can set it for the day and it will automatically shut itself off.  All-Pro got the unit to drain outside of our home and installed a flap for the hose so that the unit is maintenance-free. This was the priciest of the purchases at $471.81, but eliminated the need for multiple units in such a small room.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Shed Makeover Shopping List

1. 30″ Marquee Arrow {Junk Art Gypsyz}

2. Too Legit To Quit Pillow {Michelle Dwight Designs}

3. Arrow Apache Blue  & Fynn Cool Grey Pillows {Groopdealz}

4. Tiny Dancer Typography {Concepcion Studios}

5. Safavieh Courtyard Outdoor Rug {Walmart}

6. Chloe Side Table {Home Decorators}

7. Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools {Walmart}

8. Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit {Walmart}

9. Providence Outdoor Day Bed {Walmart}

10. Danya Floating Shelves {Walmart}

11. Pellon Homegoods Decorative Pillow Inserts {Walmart}

12. Open/Closed Sign {Walmart}

Benjamin Moore Paint Choices

 

Paint Colors Used In Our Shed

1. Benjamin Moore White Dove (Glossy, Trim)

2. Benjamin Moore Blue Spa (Exterior, Door & Edge of Bar)

3. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (Semi-Glossy, Walls)

 

I hope you enjoyed touring our shed.  I have found this room to be so good for my soul. It is so quiet and peaceful in there and is my new favorite place to unwind. Since the room is designed so differently from our home, it truly feels like I am going somewhere else in the evenings. The absence of clutter and our busy everyday life has been very calming to me.  I have been counting down the hours until my kids go to bed so I can escape. I also look forward to entertaining in here with my girlfriends, hosting book clubs, sharing a cup of coffee with good friends, writing alone,  and having a retreat for our kids on rainy days.

I’m thankful to All Pro Renovations for making all my dreams come true and exceeding my expectations for our former junky shed. Professional, courteous, on time (or early) every day, and quick to create smart solutions for this design challenge.  In ten short days, they created a space that I am so proud of and were as equally excited seeing it all come to life. They even came to my rescue when my daughter had a meltdown that her chalkboard door was disappearing and cut it to size for our garage door to surprise her while we were on vacation.  How amazing is that?

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

I could not have asked for more! I am already working on vision boards for other rooms in our home I would like to tackle with them again.

I hope this space inspires you and I’m thankful that Walmart gave me the chance to share about their beautiful outdoor options with you!

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DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

(fun summer dress: Flourish Boutique)

Are you looking for a unique hostess gift to share for those summer barbecues? Today I am showing how to make DIY Citronella Candles for a fun hostess gift on the Kenmore Blog. Making candles sounds like something an advanced crafter might tackle, but it is one of the easiest projects I have ever done, thanks to my slow cooker. I purchased the supplies in bulk online for this project, but you could also try this on a smaller scale and purchase the supplies for these at your local craft store.

To complete the candle, grab my FREE “Thanks For Letting Us Bug You Printable” to tie on each candle as a thank you for a fun-filled evening.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to get instructions on how you can make these DIY Slow Cooker Citronella Candles with your Kenmore Slow Cooker today!

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Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

With summer in full swing, I thought I would share another yummy frozen treat that you can create with  fresh fruit. If last week’s 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita was just too light for you, you will love the bold and rich flavors of this Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream. Today I am sharing this delicious homemade ice cream that you can create with just a few ingredients and a basic ice cream maker. Of course, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, no worries! Check out this technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker and use that this summer.

I partnered with Walmart on this project. Each month they give me a produce challenge and it constantly pushes me out of my box to try cooking with produce items that I am less familiar with and to invent new flavor combinations.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Have you ever cooked with plums? Confession time. I had not. Plums have never been on my radar before, but I thought I might try incorporating them into a fruit ice cream. They remind me a lot of peaches, although a bit more tart, and the flesh reminds a bit of a grape.  When selecting plums at the market,  look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. While you can also purchase plums that are firm and ripen them at home, avoid those that are excessively hard as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture profile. When making this ice cream, it is better to go for a fruit that is a bit more ripe to add to the sweetness and also make it easy to remove the pit. Just as a reminder though, if you are unhappy with your purchase for any reason, Walmart does offer a 100% freshness guarantee on all of their produce.

Plums that are not yet ripe can be left at room temperature. As this fruit tends to mature quickly, check on them in the next day or two to ensure that they do not become overripe. Once they are ripe, plums can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

The roasting of the plums is a bit torturous because the house smells heavenly.The worst part is that then you have to scrape all of that heaven into your blender and then wait a whole day before you can churn it into ice cream. To help with these difficulties, be sure to make an extra pan of these and eat them with a pint of vanilla ice cream from the freezer. You will thank me later.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

The beautiful hue of this ice cream is all naturally made. The skin give this ice cream it’s pinkish-purplish hue that happens to be my daughter’s favorite color. I loved this color so much that I decided to make this post dark and moody like these plums. The richness of the fruit deserved a little of the dark treatment on the shots. I hope you love them as much as I do. I admit that experimenting with light while photographing a frozen treat might have not been my smartest moment. In the end though, I loved how these turned out and am thankful that I have a creative platform where I can practice my techniques.

I hope you can treat yourself to this rich, slightly sweet, slightly tart, and fully roasted flavor of this Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream for a summer treat this year! If you are looking for more ideas to try with fresh produce this summer? Be sure to check out my Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, my Fresh Peach Sorbet, our Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, my 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita,  and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken for some fun ways to incorporate fresh produce in your family’s diet!

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Plums are roasted in cinnamon & sugar and then blended into cream to make a rich ice cream for the summer months.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ripe plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon (or more, depending on your taste)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the plums in a 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle plums with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and a few pinches of salt.
  3. Roast the plums for 20-25 minutes until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups heavy cream, sugar, honey and vanilla extract to a saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add a ¼ cup of cream mixture ( to the jar of a blender, along with the roasted plums and their juices. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. If you have a high-speed blender, your pulp should be fully blended. If not, you can pour the mixture through a sieve to make sure you get rid of any pieces.
  6. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours of overnight.
  7. Churn the mixture in the bowl of your ice cream maker, according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve immediately for soft serve or alternatively transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Adapted Slightly from A Cozy Kitchen.

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8 DIY Vintage Suitcase Projects

Monday, June 30th, 2014

DIY-Vintage-Suitcase-Projects-Collage Suitcases are one item that you can always find at Goodwill. With that in mind, today’s post showcases 8 ideas for ways you can use vintage suitcases for your home. Whether you are upcycling the suitcases into new pieces or simply adding them to an empty corner in your home, suitcases can offer both beauty and storage to your home.

When my kids were small, I made a rainy day suitcase that was filled with items from Goodwill, craft supplies, and fun dollar store items that they used to look forward to when we were cooped indoors. I have long been a lover of this sweet item at Goodwill and after you see these ideas, I know you will too!

Check out these 8 DIY Ideas for Vintage Suitcases on the Goodwill Tips Blog!

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McCormick FlavorPrint + 3 Fun Ideas for Dinner!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

One of my late night past times is staying up to take ridiculous quizzes like, “What 80′s Boyfriend Should You Have?,” and “What OITNB Character Would You Be?” and one of my favorites, “What Country Should You Live In,” as though these quizzes will hold the deep meaning to life.

In case you are wondering, I am Piper, Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything should be my boyfriend, &  I belong in Paris. All completely accurate & true.

Well, if you are a quiz junkie like, me you will love the new FlavorPrint tool from MCcormick Spice that is a lot like those quizzes you love, but actually will be useful because you can plan your family’s meal around the answers you provide. For someone who is stumped for fresh ideas in the summer and who has found herself gravitating towards the same three dishes for ease, I couldn’t wait to take the quiz and figure out what options would fit our family’s needs.

McCormick FlavorPrint

McCormick has found that each person has a unique flavor “fingerprint” that is conveyed through a distinct visual mark, which has 33 “spikes” to represent different flavors in your personal flavor profile. The bigger the spike, the more prominent the flavor. Through this quiz, it can identify your own personal tastes and provide delicious options that fit that unique profile for your dinner hour.

The quiz takes about two minutes of answering questions like, “Do you like mint?” and then “How about onions?” Once you have completed the quiz, it will provide meal options for you that you can try. If you like the options, you can dive in deeper and give them a thumbs up, answer more questions about your personal taste, share what you always have on hand in your pantry, and even tell them what type of equipment you have or don’t have in your kitchen. It will continue to share more and more personalized meal options as you completely more answers. For quiz junkies like me, it was a little slice of heaven.

McCormick FlavorPrint
For families that suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, you can also share what you need to avoid. I love that Wheat was an option on this so that the recipes that were shown for our family were gluten-free meal options, helping us really have useful choices for us. The last thing I want to see is all the wheaty goodness I can’t indulge in. Thanks, FlavorPrint, for making me feel like I actually have food choices.

McCormick FlavorPrint After answering the questions, these were the flavors that rose to the top. Based on this information, FlavorPrint offered some meal ideas for us. After I picked a meal to try, I answered  more questions on the quiz and got more meal ideas.  Here are three meal ideas that FlavorPrint suggested for me.

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

The first dish it recommended for me was a Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette. I can see exactly why it would recommend this for me because I LOVE edamame and I love corn. Since sourness is something I love, the acidic dressing just makes sense for me. This salad had fresh corn, red bell peppers, parsley, and edamame in it. This would be a great dish to take to a cookout and I have been eating the leftovers as a side dish for my lunch.

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Playing on my love for all things cheesy, the next recommendation that was made was this Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto made from an easy boxed rice mix. Although I wouldn’t say that this would be in our regular rotation, I know that on a busy weeknight of activities, this would be a fun side to add with a little grilled meat and is much easier to create than babysitting a pot of homemade risotto.

Let’s be honest…ain’t nobody got time for that.

My kids really loved this dish and I found it comforting & satisfying. We called this another dinner win!

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

The last dish recommended was a Grilled Chicken Caprese which could not have fit our family more perfectly. You may recall, I had just shared a 5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chop recipe that our family loved. This mimicked those same flavors, but did not require marinating the chicken, but utilized Lawry’s Roasted Garlic Salt with Oregano & Basil instead and a grilled tomato that was sprinkled with the same. My family absolutely loved this dinner option and my only regret was not making a double batch of these. It paired well with the risotto and would be a perfect summer meal to entertain with.

McCormick FlavorPrint

As you can see, we got some great dinner ideas using the FlavorPrint tool and we can’t wait to continue quiz-taking to find more meal ideas for our family.  I highly recommend you take the quiz too and get some fresh ideas for your dinner hour. In the meantime, I have created three pinnable images (below) for the meals that we tried, in case your FlavorProfile looks anything like ours!

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Grilled Chicken Caprese

 

 

Cheers to summertime meal ease & quizzes that give us actually useful information for our families… although wouldn’t you be sad if you didn’t know your destiny resides in Paris?  I hope you love it as much as we did!

 

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

As my children grow older, I strive to find more meaningful ways to celebrate holidays. The 4th of July has always been a burst of red, white, & blue through our home, but I can’t say that we have ever spent time together discussing the importance of this day and getting to know the heroes behind what makes the 4th of July so special. Today I want to share with you a fun way you can share about the 4th of July Heroes in your home and a fun way to incorporate their images in your home to make the day more meaningful and festive.

I partnered with Walmart on this project and all the materials you need for this can be found at their store.

To begin, you can select your 4th of July Heroes that you want to talk about. I found this great list for kids that I used to select our heroes to focus upon. I then headed to Wikipedia and found images of each of our heroes and converted them to black & white and saved them on my computer. If you would like to use the same heroes as us, here are the heroes we selected for our project.

George Washington

George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

John Hancock

John Hancock

Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks

John Adams

John Adams

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once you have your heroes selected, head to the Walmart Photo Site and upload the images there. In addition to having 1 of each image printed in 4×6, also add 1 set of wallets for each person.  If you send these to the one-hour lab, it will be less than $6 for all of them. While you are there, you can also pick up a package of mini-clothespins, a set of notecards for your kids to write on, supplies for this easy flag bunting, and this burlap wreath to decorate with. Since I already had these things in our home, it helps cut down on cost and storage for us this year.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once you have your images, have kids select which person they are interested in discovering and have them find information about their 4th of July heroes. I challenged my kids to find one or two facts about each hero.  We also read about the first 4th of July and how different is from how we celebrate today.

I am embarrassed to say that I was learning right along with my children and soaking it all in as much as they were. Abigail Adams, for example, was one of our favorite people we learned about. Did you know that she had five kids that she cared for and homeschooled while her husband was away serving his country?  Not only was she passionate about women’s rights, but she was also passionate about equality for all people, whether they were black or white. She helped care for the soldiers in her home (feeding them and treating their injuries), and she even learned how to make her own gunpowder. Emily and I are big fans of Abigail Adams now and all she did for our country.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Likewise, my son loved John Adams and his fun fact was that he thought his teachers, “held him back.” Despite being held back from his true potential in grade school, he passed his entrance exams to Harvard and his parents, who were farmers, gave up several acres of their own farm land to pay for John’s schooling. And, boy, did that pay off! John Adams strongly supported independence from Britain, signed the Declaration of Independence, and negotiated the treaty ending the Revolutionary War. He later became the nation’s first vice president and second president.  This led to a great discussion about recognizing our true potential when sometimes others do not.

Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King referenced Crispus Attucks in one of his speeches? He held him up as an example of black patriotism at the beginning of our nation’s history. Yet, we never knew anything about what he did for our country. I’m so glad we know now.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids
Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

If you have smaller kids, you can share simple facts and have them draw pictures. Clearly, the fact that Abigail Adams rocked it as a mom and had five kids was worthy of a picture. Make this time fun for your kids while acknowledging the sacrifices that so many gave up for our freedom.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

Once we were done discussing our heroes, I incorporated these pictures into our holiday decor. I pulled some of the flags off of our bunting and switched them with pictures of our heroes.  I took the items off of my burlap wreath and clipped the wallet images with mini clothespins on the wreath. I hung this in the center of our mirror and added the flag & hero bunting around the frame of the mirror.

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Kids

I love these touches to our 4th of July decorating, but I love even more that my kids know about these patriotic heroes.  I hope this idea inspires you to learn more about this holiday and the heroes who made this day possible for all of us.

Happy 4th of July, friends!

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3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I don’t know of anything more delicious than fresh fruit in the summertime. Today I am sharing an EASY 3-ingredient watermelon granita you can prepare with just fresh watermelon, lime juice, and a little sugar.  It is one of those dishes you will love for an effortless weeknight treat or a fun dish to entertain with for the 4th of July weekend!

Each month Walmart challenges me to find a new way to use their fresh produce and this month’s challenge just-so-happens to be one of my favorite fruits…WATERMELON.

Hello, summer!

Seedless Watermelon

I woke up early one morning to make this dish and here is my early morning watermelon shot for you as the sun had not even risen. I tend to operate best first thing after I have had my coffee. I’m sure you can relate (*ahem*).

I chose a seedless watermelon for this dish because trying to pick out seeds to prepare your granita is far too time-consuming for a busy mom especially when she has a full summer day of kids. If you have a high- powered blender it is possible to pulverise them, but I save my blender the work and choose the seedless variety to make it easy on all parties involved.

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

There are three easy steps to selecting the perfect watermelon.

1. Lift Your Watermelon- Does it feel heavy? You want a watermelon that feels weighted and not light.

2. Check for the Yellow Dot- Watermelons have a yellow spot on them where they have rested and grown on the ground. You want to find one that has a creamy yellow spot on it because that showcases that it is a lovely ripe melon.

3. Thump It- Have you seen people thump their watermelons at the grocery store and wondered what that was all about? Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they do it.  You are listening for a sound that indicates a great melon. It should have a deep hollow sound, but if it is too ripe or underripe, it will have a dull sound.

4. Dissatisfied? Bring it Back- I didn’t tell you there was a fourth step, but if you should pick the wrong watermelon, Walmart will graciously give you a refund on it since they have a 100% freshness guarantee on their produce. Basically, it makes the process of selection foolproof, especially if that thumping bit gets confusing.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

What is a Granita?

The word granita sounds awfully fancy to this Midwest girl’s ears, but it is actually not fancy at all. A granita is a semi-frozen dessert traditionally made from sugar, water and various flavorings that originated in Sicily. It’s a little like sorbet a little like Italian ice, but uniquely its own person with a texture that is a tin bit coarser.  Since the watermelon is in season and often on sale this time of year, I decided to use it to make the granita. 

All you do for this recipe is give it a whirl through your blender. After blending your cubed watermelon, fresh lime juice, and sugar, pour it into a 9×13″ dish and slide it in your freezer. Every half hour or so, take a peek and give it a scrape with a fork to move things around. Keep doing this every once in awhile and then after about three-four hours of freezing time, your dessert should be ready for serving.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I wish there was more to tell you about this dish, but it really is as easy as that. It’s a frugal way to incorporate more fresh fruit and is best served with lots of spoons on a hot summer’s day!

Looking for more ideas to try with fresh produce this summer? Be sure to check out my Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, my Fresh Peach Sorbet, our Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken for some fun ways to incorporate fresh produce in your family’s diet!

For more watermelon ideas, check out this Watermelon-Strawberry Smoothie from Mommy’s Kitchen & this Watermelon Margarita from Presley’s Pantry. Oh, yum!

 3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

6-8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 2 limes
Add your cubed watermelon, sugar, and lime juice to your blender. Blend until smooth. Pour it all into a 9×13 metal pan and freeze for one hour. Using a fork, scrape to loosen the granita. Freeze for another hour and repeat. After it has been frozen for three hours, scrape it once more and then serve in a hollowed watermelon or in cups.

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