Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

It’s been a long time since I have shared some pictures of our home. I have been in the thick of organizing my craft room and today I wanted to share with you some ideas for organizing your own craft space in your home.

For my part on the Walmart craft team, they requested that I tackle a craft project. I made a special request that I could share with you today my organized craft space and see if I could find any fun additions to my space at their store and they agreed. So today instead of crafting it up, I am showing off what I have been up to in my space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Let’s start from the very beginning. Three years ago, this was our space that I envisioned turning into our office space. We have a tri-level home, now lovingly called a quad now that we finished this fourth level, and this was what we started with. This space was where we threw our stuff that we didn’t know what to deal with. We had to majorly declutter and we had to save enough cash to make the updates to our home. We were able to accomplish both (loan free!) and create the space I had been dreaming of.

I am starting with this picture to show you that maybe there is an area in your home that could be your special space and you just don’t know it. Maybe it just requires a fresh eye, a bit of decluttering, and a few smart craft solutions to carve a space just for you.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Here is my craft and office space today. When I post these types of pictures, people ask me where I found certain things. Here are some of the things you will find in my space.

Floral Chairs- Found at a local Value City (no longer available-sadness)!

Green Side Table- A side table we owned, but spray painted & distressed

Owl Lamp & Burlap Lamp Shade-  Walmart

Record Table- Thrift Shop Find Stained & Painted

Swivel Metal Stool- Home Decorators

Knitted Leaf Centerpiece- Handmade

Everyday I’m Hustling Pillow- Michelle Dwight Designs

Record Frames- H&M

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Crafting and organization do not go hand in hand for me.  I spent a good month getting this room organized and trying to figure out the best solutions for my space. Here are some of the solutions I found inexpensively at Walmart.

Glass Jars- I had all of my craft supplies tucked away in baskets. This meant I spent a lot of time digging through baskets and trying to figure out where I tucked all my crafting odds & ends. Glass jars truly helps me visualize what I have and where it is. I found the smaller jars for just $4.97 and my giant 2 gallon glass jar is the perfect home for my ribbon collection (priced at $9.97).

Clear Clipboards- As a craft blogger, I always have a running to-do list for my site and craft projects. I utilized this to-do list printable (previously featured in our DIY Homework stations) and mounted them on these clear clipboards ($3.88)  with 3M hooks ($3.67) on my wall. I also have my favorite Mead Wall Calendar I buy every year to keep track of when all my projects are due ($7.97).

Metal Bins- Over in the closet solutions, I found a metal tub that I could use to organize my knitting needles. When you start really building up your knitting needle collection, you may have four or more different sizes of the same size needle. I was constantly digging through baskets to find the right needles. I decided to use manilla envelopes and label them #0-15 and then put my needles for each size in these envelopes. This saves me tons of time hunting for the right needles and makes it easy to see what I might need to buy. I put all of these in this metal tub ($9.74) and it is on top of my newly organized craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Two things we purchased to finish out my crafting space was a crafting table and a crafting cart that I could roll out into the middle of our office when I needed to do my crafting. We found this Martha Stewart Collapsible Crafting Table & Crafting Cart on Home Decorators. If you are struggling with a small space, this is a dream come true. You can fold down one side if your space is small or open it all the way out if you need a large surface to work on.

This space also doubles as an indoor photography studio when the weather isn’t cooperating. I have my photography backdrops stored in the gift wrap center and can really spread my work out, if I need to on this space.

I spent an entire weekend whittling down my craft supplies to what I truly needed in my craft cart. I now everything I need right at my fingertips. I had to keep reassuring myself that it was okay to part with some of my craft supplies. If it hadn’t been used in the last year, it was definitely something that could be donated to free up precious space in my craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.comAs you can see, I can wheel them over to corners in our office so they don’t get in the way. I am so thankful for these smart solutions for our space. I am also thankful that I finally feel organized in this space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

And as a good old-fashioned reminder that all good things should be enjoyed in moderation, I found this old-fashioned closed sign over in the office supplies at Walmart ($1.97). I mounted a 3M clip upside down and hooked it on the back of my computer. This now offers an in-my-face reminder of how I should be spending my evenings.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my craft space! Feel free to ask me any questions and I promise to try to help!

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8 Beautifully Frugal Valentine’s Day Projects

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

8 Beautifully Frugal Valentine's Day Projects from MomAdvice.com.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and one of my favorite things to share here on the Goodwill Tips Blog is frugal ways to celebrate the holidays using items from your local Goodwill Store. You may have thought last year’s DIY Valentine’s Day Projectspost couldn’t be topped, but I think today’s projects are going to rival all that I shared last year. The best part is that they are both beautiful AND frugal- a total win for my wallet and my home!

Let’s get started with this year’s featured projects! Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog to find out how to recreate all of these fun ideas!

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Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

 

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so I wanted to share a fun recipe for Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies that you could create as a fun treat to give or to share with those you love.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Walmart asked me to create a Valentine’s Day treat with one of their exclusive products they carry. Since I am such a big M&M fan, I decided to use their Red Velvet M&M’s in my recipe.

Do you ever have a really hard time with a recipe and then later wonder if it had ever been tested? That was the case with this project from start to finish. These cookies were supposed to be simple and straightforward, but the recipe ended up being written completely wrong. Thankfully for you, I spent a whole day figuring out what went wrong with this one and how we can fix it so that you can have an awesome baking day!

Please read this post carefully, I am offering you a load of tips for a successful baking day!! 

Are M&M’s Gluten-Free?

Let’s begin with the question, are M&M’s gluten-free? The answer is that most M&M’s are gluten-free. In fact, most of the varieties they typically carry, other than their pretzel variety, are gluten-free.

What I found with the Red Velvet M&M’s though are that they are gluten-free, but in high times of production, like Halloween & Valentine’s Day, Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy and some of those may introduce cross-contamination risks. These Red Velvet M&M’s are ones that could have been cross-contaminated. If this is of high concern, look for the plain M&M’s, preferably mini-M&M’s to help your dough hold up better. 

It is always important to read your labels carefully and know that Mars Chocolate always promises to call out any wheat, barley, and rye ingredients by name, as well as any cross-contamination risks on their labels. I recommend this information page for finding which Valentine’s Day candies are safe to eat.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.comGluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Tips for a Successful Dough

As, I am a big fan of the Betty Crocker cake mixes, I used this to create my cookies.  As you can see when I mixed the ingredients together, this dough is very crumbly. To help make this dough really hold and stick together, add 3-4 teaspoons of water to the dough, until it really comes together. This will help when slicing your sugar cookie rolls.

The recipe that was written did not add this to the dough and so when I sliced them, the cookie dough crumbled. I had to add my water later and chill them again for another three hours. Once I sliced with the liquid addition, the dough held much better.

If you need these cookies to be dairy-free as well as gluten-free, please read the notes in the recipe on how you can create these without the butter.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Tips for a Successful Sugar Cookie Log

One more thing, I learned while creating this cookies is that it is better to make your sugar cookie roll WITHOUT the M&M’s in it and then add them to your cookies after so you can get beautifully clean slices.

Trying to cut through these Red Velvet M&M’s was a real challenge so I would encourage adding them after or just doing these cookies as a drop cookie. To do a sugar cookie roll, as pictured above with M&M’s, seek the mini varieties. Again, read the packaging carefully to insure that they are safe for eating.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

Wrap your sugar cookie roll in wax paper and chill for three hours or more. Once you are ready to bake off your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then slice them and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or a well-greased cookie sheet. I prefer parchment paper, both for the ease of clean-up and how beautifully these cookies will set up.

Allow these to cool and then transfer. These cookies are very delicate in texture so you will want to give them plenty of time to set up. 

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies from MomAdvice.com

What Do They Taste Like?

These cookies are so delicious that you will NEVER know that they are gluten-free. The dough is so flavorful and the healthy dose of vanilla in the batter makes these taste like a cookie dough that you truly slaved over. The addition of the candies adds that yummy chocolate flavor that I think every good cookie should have.

With these helpful tips, I hope you will have a successful baking day and hope that this easy treat idea will help as you plan your own Valentine’s Day treats this year!

Can I Freeze These?

Cookies can be frozen! It is recommended that you wrap them in aluminum foil or in a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Let the cookies thaw on the kitchen counters overnight before serving.

What Other Ways Can I Spice Up These Cookies?

If you can’t have chocolate, there are many other ways you can spice these easy cookies up.

Add Sprinkles- Lightly beat one egg white and brush the tops of your cookies with it, then sprinkle with gluten-free sugar sprinkles.

Add Zest- Add 1 teaspoon of grated lemon, orange, or key lime zest

Switch Your Extract- Try a different extract in your dough like almond or butter

Make It Spicy- Add a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, or dust the tops with the egg white & a cinnamon & sugar combo.

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Cake mix cookies that can be gluten-free and dairy-free for a fun treat to share for any holiday.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter- if dairy-free replace with vegetable shortening, MELTED
  • 1 large egg
  • 3-4 teaspoons warm water, just until you see your dough pull together
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup M&M's or read the post for other ways to spice up these cookies
Instructions
  1. Place the cake mix, butter (or vegetable shortening), egg, water, and vanilla in your mixing bowl and beat on low speed until well-combined.
  2. Using a spatula fold in the M&M's (if mini-sized) or reserve to press these into each cookie after they have been cut (if large-sized)
  3. Place the cookie dough on a sheet of wax paper and then press with your hands to form a long,approximately 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Tightly roll the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets well or cover these in parchment paper.
  5. Unwrap the dough and transfer to a cutting board and slice them in ¼-3/8" slices.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges,7-10 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies fully cool before transferring.

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Have you ever made gluten-free cake mix cookies? Do you have any tips for beginning gluten-free bakers on ways to increase success with cake mix cookies?

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Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

I love to create new holiday traditions with my family and today’s project is in honor of the Chinese New Year!  To celebrate, I am sharing a tutorial on how to make felt fortune cookies and a free printable that can be placed on a jar for a special Chinese New Year tradition.

I have partnered with Walmart on this project to showcase a fun project that you can do in honor of the holiday. All supplies for this project can be found at their store!

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.  The Chinese year 4712 begins on Jan. 31, 2014. A fun fact for this year is that this is the year of the horse.

New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year. Can you just imagine?

According to the Chinese legend,  Buddha arranged a meeting and asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve animals came and Buddha named a year after each one. If you were born in certain years, your personality is supposedly aligned with your animal. Those born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. Since this is the year of the horse, if you have a child born this year, it sounds like you will have quite a talented and delightful child.

There are many great traditions around this holiday that include wearing red clothes which symbolizes fire and drives away bad luck, and a lantern festival, and one thing that Americans really seem to get behind is…

The  FEASTING.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

We are a Fortunate Family

Since the Chinese New Year is about feasting and family, I wanted to create a craft that would work for these two elements of the holiday. I love that many elements of this holiday focus on luck & good fortune. Incorporating this element, today we are making felt fortune cookies, but instead of filling them with predicted fortunes, we are going to fill them with all we are so fortunate for.

Because we are a FORTUNATE family. 

I love gratitude projects and thankfulness for all we have around the dinner table is definitely a tradition that I want my family to embrace.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed

(All Available at Walmart)

Felt Sheets (any color)

3/8″ grosgrain ribbon

Floral Wire

Wire Clippers

Large Mason Jar

Scissors

Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

1 piece of heavy cardstock

1 piece of white paper & pencil

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make Felt Fortune Cookies

1. Using your ribbon spool or the bottom of your mason jar, trace a circle with a pencil or marker. Cut out your circle.

2. Snip a piece of floral wire, approximately the length of your circle, with your wire cutters. Add a line of hot glue, and place the wire in the center of the glue.

3. Snip grosgrain ribbon the approximate length of your circle and then secure over the wire with a little additional glue.

Felt_Fortune_Cookies_Tutorial-12

4. Fold your circle in half and then bend like a fortune cookie. Repeat the process until you have a jar full of fortune cookies.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

You can enlist your helpers to help make your fortune cookies. Since we have had UNLIMITED SNOW DAYS THAT NEVER END, I have many helping hands. Ahem.

The best part though, is involving them in the gratitude portion of this project. Using the writing prompt,

“I’m Fortunate For…”

Have children write down all the things that make their family special.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Emily said, “I’m Fortunate For…that my family are GRATE dancers.”

What can I say? She comes from a long lineage of family members that just BRING IT on the dance floor!

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Mom & Dad can get in on the fortune cookie writing prompt too. Hopefully your husband doesn’t read this aloud and then ELABORATE endlessly on his AMAZINGNESS.

Awkward.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com. Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

My husband designed this fantastic printable that you can attach to a jar. I just dabbed a little glue on my jar and attached this side. You could also print this on label paper or attach with a little double-sided tape to finish your project. (Grab the printable at the bottom of this post!)

If you are looking for dinner options, here are couple of great ones that I can recommend!

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

This delicious gluten-free orange chicken would make a fantastic meal!

Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles

These Peanut Ginger Chicken Noodles are always a big hit!

Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein

And this Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein is fast & easy to prepare!

However you celebrate this holiday, I hope this post offers some inspiration for fun ways to celebrate with your family.

Chinese New Year Family Tradition: We Are a Fortunate Family Felt Fortune Cookies from MomAdvice.com.

Grab Our FREE “We Are a Fortunate Family,” printable.

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Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

As Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaches, I wanted to share with you a gluten-free Super Bowl dish you can share for your game day eating.

This month Walmart asked me to share a fun Super Bowl dish that you can create from items in their grocery section. I will admit, that coming up with a dish that was both dairy-free AND gluten-free for my game day feast was a challenge to me. I am the girl that hovers over the creamy dips and loves a sub sandwich for my game day feasting.

When I thought about recipes I could share (and eat!) though, I settled upon my favorite pulled pork recipe that can be created in your slow cooker. This pulled pork is so easy to make because you simply put your pork butt or shoulder in your slow cooker with a little root beer and let it cook all day. And that is pretty much it!

I told you it was easy!

Gluten-Free Sweet Baby Ray's

My favorite sauce has (and always will be) the super delicious Sweet Baby Ray’s. Since going gluten-free, I have become insane about label reading especially when it comes to my condiments. I was so happy to discover that all of the Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces are gluten-free and you can, of course, find them at Walmart in the condiment aisle.

One of the things people warned me about when I started this journey was to always label-read especially when it comes to my condiments. I have found I don’t need to go to my specialty markets if I do the proper research on the items I need before I leave. For example, here are 7 condiments you may be surprised to find are gluten-free!

As we discovered when Emily baked my birthday cake, the offerings for gluten-free items are becoming more mainstream at our Walmart store!

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know why I had not thought to pair pulled pork and a sweet potato together before, but it is the absolute best flavor combination EVER. Using my technique for perfect baked potatoes, I like to coat mine in olive oil and to sprinkle them liberally with kosher salt.

Once they have cooked, I split them and pile in sweetly seasoned pulled pork. You can hollow out a bit of the potato, if you need to, but I just stack the meat as high as it will go. Stick a fork in it, and you are ready to enjoy the game with your favorite beverage and a filling dinner!

If you are entertaining, pile these on a long platter with forks as a fun game day dish! I promise this will be a dish that is loved by ALL, not just your gluten-free friends!

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An easy gluten-free & dairy-free game day dish you can share with friends, made easily in your slow cooker.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 sweet potatoes, scrubbed & pricked with a fork
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 (4 pound) Boston butt (or pork shoulder)
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)
Instructions
  1. Place the pork meat in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily (approximately 8-10 hours).
  2. Shred the meat and drain the root beer from the slow cooker. Stir in barbecue sauce and toss gently.
  3. Preheat your oven for 400 degrees.
  4. Rub your cleaned sweet potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Do not wrap in foil, so you can get a crisp skin.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon the size of your potatoes.
  6. Let potatoes rest for five minutes. Cut a slit in the top and stuff with the pulled pork.

 

Looking for more great game day food, check out these Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings & these 12 Great Tailgating Recipes for your game day feasting!

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Knitted Princess Leia Hat

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com.

Oh, you know I love a good knitting project! Today I am showing off my Knitted Princess Leia baby hat that I made. Not only that, but I am going to walk you through how to knit in the round for my favorite beginning knitters.

Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com. Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com.

Walmart let me choose any craft project I wanted this month and since I am in knitting mode this winter, I have been dying to make this cute little hat ever since I saw it on Ravelry.

Supplies Needed

  • 1 Skein Red Heart With Love in Chocolate ($3.84)
  • US 10.5 Straight needles (for knitting flat option)
  • US 10.5 Circular needles and set of 4 US 10.5 DPNs (for knitting in the round option)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Clipboard
  • Stitch Marker
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Scissors

Although, this hat can be knitted flat, I would love to challenge you to give knitting in the round a try. For a long time, I completely avoided projects that you had to knit in the round.

Four needles?

NO THANKS!

Unfortunately, if you never knit in the round you miss out on a lot of amazing patterns, particularly hand-crampingly tiny knits that would be stretched out when placed upon circulars.

Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com.

I decided to create a picture tutorial for you to help guide you through your first knit. A quick search on YouTube should also yield great video tutorials. Let’s begin with this easy diagram.

1. Cast all of the stitches onto one double pointed needle.

2. Using your strong math skills (ahem) divide the cast on number by three and begin knitting that number on to your second needle. Be sure that you are beginning your stitches as the pattern states and not just knitting them. For this pattern, for example, you are doing a K2 P2 rib. You will want to be sure you are staying on pattern with your stitches. Place a marker on that second needle (at the end of the stitches) so it marks the beginning of your round.

3. Knit, in pattern, onto the next needle. You should now have three needles with stitches! Yay!

4. You will now be scooting and joining stitches on your needles, like in the triangle of needles above. You will use a FOURTH needle though, to begin knitting in the round. Just begin where you have placed your marker and begin knitting. Because I only have two hands, I am just showing how to set it up. You will use that fourth needle to begin. Continue knitting and scooting things, making sure your stitches are all facing in the same direction, particularly in those first two rows.

Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com.

I love that these Princess Leia braids are not knitted. In fact, all we are doing is gathering yarn and braiding it like hair. I used a clipboard to clip the my hair to the top so that I could get nice and even braids.

Although the pattern says to measure these at 36″ long, I will admit that I am terrible measurer. If you are terrible like me, be sure to make both the braids and then trim them to be approximately the same length, otherwise Princess Leia is going to look a little lopsided!

Once I had the braid all gathered up, I trimmed all those loose pieces down and then secured it to the hat. These braids double as delightful little ear warmers.

Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com. Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com. Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com. Knitted Princess Leia Hat from MomAdvice.com.

The pattern gives you the options to make it for a Preemie all the way up to an Adult. I admit, after I made this tiny hat, I felt the impulse to make one for myself. I mean, who doesn’t dream of being Princess Leia?

With this large amount of yarn, I can easily make three to four hats for less than $4! Score!

Thank you to Fiber Flux… Adventures in Stitching for sharing her pattern with the Ravelry community! Be sure to friend me over there- I love sharing & seeing your projects!

Grab the Pattern HERE.

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Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.

I love taking you all along on my journey as I discover all the deliciousness that can be created in gluten-free cooking. Today’s recipe is for a gluten-free orange chicken that will rival anything you get at your favorite Chinese restaurant, but can be prepared for your gluten-free lifestyle, made with less fat, and can be served over brown rice. The best part is how inexpensive it is to prepare and how beautifully this dish reheats.

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.

This project is sponsored by Walmart. Each month they challenge me with a produce-focused piece and it just so happens to be my favorite post each month. You may recall some of our past produce products: Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my easy dairy-free Peach Sorbet and our Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal…just to name a few!

The Citrus Event is happening in-stores now and Walmart asked me to help them promote their Navel Oranges this month and come up with a unique idea for using them. The best part about buying them at their store right now is they offer a 100% freshness guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with your produce, you can just bring back your receipt and they will give you a full refund. No questions asked and no need to bring back the purchase. How awesome is that?

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.

I am finding gluten-free flours to be expensive. I purchased a five pound bag of Better Batter for my baking, but for something like flouring chicken, I really didn’t want to use the fancy stuff.

While browsing the baking aisle though, I noticed that they did have a Betty Crocker Rice Flour that was just $3.38 for a pound. I went ahead and got that to try for my chicken and it worked beautifully! You would have never noticed the difference in regular flour versu this flour.  I am excited to have that in our pantry now for these types of recipes.

Of course, if you aren’t gluten-free (lucky ducks!), your standard all-purpose flour will work beautifully in this dish.

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken from MomAdvice.com.

Made with freshly squeezed orange juice (approximately 3-4 oranges), this sauce is a burst of citrus that is balanced with the flavor of a little balsamic vinegar and sweetened with brown sugar.

You can use chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts to cube into 1″ cubes for your meat. I browned these in batches and then added them all back into my cast iron skillet and poured the sauce on top, just cooking until the sauce was thickened and the chicken was cooked through.

Did I mention that this was a one pot dish? Winning!

If you have a rice cooker, you can enjoy some delicious brown rice on the side, for an easy and effortless side dish.

I doubled the recipe and my family could not stop eating it. It is truly the best thing I have eaten since going gluten-free and it is a dish that will be repeated over and over in our house!  Be sure to add this to your menu planners this month- it won’t disappoint!

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
An easy gluten-free orange chicken recipe that you can prepare at home and that can be easily doubled for a quick weeknight meal!
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used rice flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice from 3-4 navel oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Cut the chicken into 1” cubes. Mix together flour, salt, pepper, and seasoning (if desired), then toss the chicken in the flour mixture. Cook in oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together orange juice, vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar in a small bowl. Pour over cooked chicken and simmer on low for five minutes. Serve over brown rice.

walmart_mom_disclaimer gluten-free-125

Join me in this week’s gluten-free recipe linky over at Musings of a Housewife!

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Winter Activity Idea: Baking With Kids

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Today is my 36th birthday and someone special wanted to bake me cupcakes for my special day. We decided to test-drive the new Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and wanted to offer some pointers for getting your kids in the kitchen… so they can bake your birthday cake.

Aren’t I a smart mom?

Walmart asked me to share a beloved winter activity with you that we do with our kids. Of course, one of my favorite activities in the winter is baking. What I appreciate most about my kids is their enthusiasm for learning and helping in my kitchen.

Cooking together can teach your kids so much. Here are just a few lessons we worked on while baking a cake together.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Builds Reading Skills

One of the best parts about having your kids help you in the kitchen is that they can practice their reading skills. With picture tutorials on the back of many box mixes, it can help beginning readers navigate the ingredient list and list of supplies needed to cook.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Builds Math Skills

Cooking with your kids isn’t only helpful in just the reading department.  In fact, the biggest challenge for me as a chef involves all that math that goes into recipes. For young kids, understanding fractions and measurements of the ingredients can be tricky, but can offer an important lesson.

Don’t just have them do the measuring, but explain all those different spoon sizes or read the packaging of the butter to have them figure out how much a 1/2 cup equals.

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Can Lead to Independence

One of the hardest things I have found about being a parent is having the patience to let them do it themselves. It is the same patience that I needed when teaching them to tie their shoes, to clean up after themselves, and to help in the kitchen. Yes, it is so much faster for me to just do it myself, BUT when they become adults, how will they ever know how to do anything if their mama always did it for them?

Instead of using things like stand mixers and big appliances to get the jobs done in the kitchen, invest in the time of having them mix and beat things by hand or with hand mixers. Allow extra time when cooking with your children to give them time to figure things out themselves and to create it on their own.

 

Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids Tips & Tricks for Cooking With Your Kids

Cooking Together Can Build Confidence

When we eat the food our  kids make we do a lot of oohing and ahhing over it. Really take in the details of their work and compliment them on their presentation and flavors of their dish.

We have always tried to do this with our kids and I get such a kick out of them when I hear them mimicking back to me what a great job I have done on dishes or on the flavors of the foods I put together for them.

 Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix

For those that asked about this Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix, I will be honest, and say that it really hit the spot. We baked these at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes and the cake was surprisingly light and resembled a sponge cake texture. The cake mix yielded 12 cupcakes and the cost on the mix was just $4.58.

When I shared about it on Facebook, friends chimed in with recommendations like adding a pudding mix to the cake or even a little extra vanilla, to boost the flavor. I am definitely going to have to try these additions! Layered with a thick layer of chocolate frosting though, and my daughter’s signature sprinkles, this cake was truly delicious.

If you are hosting a birthday party or need to bring in a gluten-free treat to school, I would highly recommend this cake mix for a fast and easy treat. The only difference  between making this and traditional boxed cake mixes is adding softened butter versus the oil.

Burkina Faso Fundraiser

On a personal note, I also wanted to thank you all for helping me celebrate my birthday this year by funding our wells for Burkina Faso. At this point, I am the proud owner of ONE WELL of clean water, which will give water to ONE THOUSAND people, through your donations. I am also almost halfway to my SECOND WELL. Can you believe that? In just three short days, we have collected almost $3,000 dollars! 

burkina_faso_collage_2

We still need to collect $1,000 for our second well. You can donate as little as $2 towards our cause. Here are four things you could “give up,” this week to help me give clean water to women & children. Just think of the lives you can help me save this week!

Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!! It has been the best year yet!

 

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DIY New Year’s Eve Craft Ideas

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

DIY New Year's Eve Crafts

I can’t believe that December is already here and we are dreaming up great New Year’s projects for you! Of course, I am featuring glittered projects and upcycle projects that could be enjoyed any time of the year. The best part is that you can find many of the materials for these projects at your local Goodwill Store for a fraction of the price compared to other retail stores.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to get the scoop on these fun and festive projects to ring in the New Year!

Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

*This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers

Each year, I find myself coming to the topic of simplifying the holidays.  Don’t we just all wish this time of year was a little easier?  Despite my best efforts to simplify, it can feel impossible in the midst of the kid’s holiday programs, get togethers, shopping, wrapping, sending of cards, gift-giving, & holiday baking.

I don’t want to brag, but this year we really did achieve that simple holiday we have been longing for and I am partnering with Ritz to share how you can avoid the parade of endless holiday to-do’s and instead embrace a simpler holiday.

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Giving of Holiday Cards

 

I love, love, love having pictures that I am in and having someone else take them for me, but we lost track of time and weren’t able to book our usual family session. Instead of not sending cards, I set my camera up on a tripod and we took our family shot by setting the timer on our camera and having me jump into the family picture.   By getting everything set up in advance before my family came outside, we were able to get our picture in a mere five minutes.  Before everyone had their coats off, I had our photos edited and cards in the mail. The best part is that we have moved our family session to the Spring, a time of year we decided was much less chaotic, and will really enjoy it all a little bit more.

I will admit that I was also was more laid back about how we did our cards this year and enlisted one of my favorite helpers to assist me in this year’s mailing. Not only was she excellent at adding our stamps and sealing the envelopes, but she also kept me on track because she was waiting for me to get those addresses on so she could do her part with them.  It gave us time to chat while we were doing them and ended up being fun instead of a holiday chore this year.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Simplify the Holiday Baking

 

This year we decided to skip the big baking day and make easy treats instead. Although I usually love holiday baking, this year I focused more on creating knitted gifts than my typical holiday treat box. Fortunately, we found a fun holiday treat that we could make that didn’t require a bit of baking, but was just as delicious. On the Ritz Holiday Parade site, we found an easy recipe for Mint Thins to create together that tasted just like one of our favorite cookie treats, but were made with Ritz Crackers, chocolate, and crushed candy canes.

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

It just goes to show that making holiday treats doesn’t have to be an elaborate baking day. My kids loved helping to crush (and eat!) the candy canes for our cookies and we enjoyed eating these while watching, “A Christmas Story,” this year. Yet another simple and easy tradition is born!

 Simplifying the Holiday Parade of Activities

Simplify the Gift Giving

 

I often talk about our commitment to do the Four Gift Rule, but this year we took it a step further and asked the kids if they would like to skip the presents and just take a family adventure together. We gave them lots of options for places we could take a mini-vacation to and they chose a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan for our holiday getaway. We are so excited to take in all of the museums, holiday lights, ice skating, and see the sites of the city.

If your kids are struggling to come up with gifts this year or your home is overrun with just too much stuff, consider creating your very own, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” vacation in lieu of gifts. Not only did I have a lot less to buy this year, but I also get to spend four days with my family making incredible memories that I hope they will remember forever.

Start planning and dreaming ahead for next year though because those vacation rentals do go quickly!

 Ritz Parade Float

Focus On the Fun

 

Ritz wants to bring back the fun for the holidays and this year they have created a fun interactive Ritz Parade where you can visit the site and build your very own float. You can add up to twelve items on your float from toys, characters, celebrations, and banners. The pieces can be scaled to your desired size and placed anywhere on your float. Once it is complete, you can share your holiday float with others. It’s a fun little interactive tool that you can use to keep the kids busy while you are putting those last minute touches on those holiday festivities. Since we adopted a cat this year, we loved making a float of her for our holiday parade. I am sure this illustrates just how special she has become to all of us!

In addition, the Ritz parade allows consumers to unlock deals to help decrease the stress of gift buying! You can check out all the deals here!

For a little added holiday fun, check out how Ritz surprised shoppers with a fun rap. Get it? Rapping Wrappers!!

 

Happy Holidays, friends!

 Easy No-Bake Mint Thin Recipe from MomAdvice.com.

Easy Mint Thin Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Looking for a quick holiday treat to share that doesn't require any baking? You must try these delicious Mint Thin "Cookies." You won't believe how good or easy these are to make (and eat!)
Ingredients
  • 2 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 36 RITZ Crackers
  • 1 candy cane (6 inch), crushed
Instructions
  1. Mix chocolate and extract.
  2. Dip crackers in chocolate mixture, turning to completely coat each cracker. Carefully scrape off excess chocolate.
  3. Place crackers in single layer on waxed paper-covered baking sheets; sprinkle with crushed candy.
  4. Refrigerate thirty minutes or until chocolate is firm.

 

This post is sponsored by Ritz Crackers. I’ve received compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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