Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts from MomAdvice.com.

If there is one thing you know our family loves it is doughnuts. In honor of the upcoming Olympics, I am sharing a delicious gluten-free baked doughnut recipe that you can bake up as a treat for those opening ceremonies. This gluten-free doughnut recipe is as easy to put together as our other wonderful doughnut recipes and are so fun to decorate for the holiday.

Today’s project is sponsored by Walmart. Almost everything you need for this project can be found at their store!

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts from MomAdvice.com.

One thing you will need to create these doughnuts is a doughnut pan. When I first started baking doughnuts, you had to order an item like this online and through specialty shops. Now you can find it right on the shelves at Walmart, in the same aisle as your cookie sheets & baking pans. The price on their Wilton doughnut pans is $7.19.  I have two of them because most recipes yield 10-12 doughnuts and it saves me time in the kitchen. These two pans have paid for themselves over and over again for our occasional sweet weekend treat!

Because I am new to gluten-free baking, I am using a gluten-free all-purpose mix to save me time in the kitchen. I bought a batch of Better Batter for my pantry and I have found that it is yielding impressive results for all of my baking needs. Buying it online from the company in bulk has saved me some money and storage in my pantry, thanks to not needing to buy multiple flours to blend. The bonus is that this mix does contain the Xanthan gum right in it. If your mix does not contain this, you will need to add that ingredient separately.

These doughnuts are light, fluffy, & sweet. The first things my kids remarked on was the spice in them. Although there is just a pinch of nutmeg, this ingredient really pulls through in the doughnut. For non-Olympic doughnut events, a sprinkle of powdered sugar on these is a delightful morning treat.

Gluten_Free_Baked_Olympic_Doughnuts-5

To make your Olympic-themed glazes, I simply made one batch of my favorite glaze and then added food coloring to each dish to reach the desired color. To achieve your black, if you are just working with a standard set of food colorings, equal portions of blue, yellow, and red will help achieve the color you are after.

Gluten_Free_Baked_Olympic_Doughnuts-4 Looking For More Fun Ideas to Celebrate the Olympics? Let’s take a peek at some more fun (and frugal!) ideas!

Fun Ways to Celebrate the Olympics

Olympic Medal Cookies

What could be sweeter than receiving an Olympic medal? How about an Olympic Medal filled with a cookie? AlphaMom offers this sweet little Olympic craft to do with your little ones. Stumped for a cookie idea?  I highly recommend an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookie for your medal filling!

Olympic T-Shirts

Dress up a white t-shirt to dress up for the Olympic games. with a simple painted ring pattern on an inexpensive thrift store shirt, this is a craft that is easy enough to do with kids of all ages. Kate’s Creative Space offers this fun craft idea to her readers to celebrate the games.

DIY Olympic Torch

What child doesn’t dream of carrying around their very own Olympic torch. Hoosier Homemade showcases a fun craft that you can do to create your very own Olympic torch made from some commonly found items at your local craft store.

Olympics Party Fun

Why not throw a party for your family or for a group of families to celebrate the Olympics? A Small Snippet has you covered with everything from patriotic foods to great Olympic game ideas to play together, to fun ideas for decorations that don’t cost a lot.

 Olympic Torches Made From Recyclables

If hitting your craft store for supplies to make an Olympic torch isn’t in your budget, this Olympic Torch from The Idea Room is made from common items you have in your home and recyclables. These torches are made from a paper plate, a paper towel roll, and red & gold tissue paper. This is one that even the smallest child can do. Be sure to lift these high and participate in your own round of fun family Olympic games.

Olympic Rings Necklace

Even moms can jump in on the Olympic excitement with this cute craft, from Remarkably Domestic, for an Olympic Rings Necklace. This necklace is made from simple rings covered in Chinese knotting cord to create those Olympic rings everyone loves so much. This would be a fun craft to do while watching your favorite games this year!

However you celebrate the Olympic games this year, I hope this post inspires you for your Olympic game watching!

Gluten-Free Olympic Doughnuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
These gluten-free doughnuts are so easy to make and can be a fun snack to share while watching the opening ceremony this year!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose gluten-free powder (I recommend Better Batter Flour)
  • 1 cup sugar (next time I may adjust to ¾ cup sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla, butter, or almond extract
  • Betty Crocker Food Coloring Set (over in the baking aisle)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and spray two nonstick 6-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and milk until smooth; add to the flour mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into 10 cavities of the prepared doughnut pans until about three-quarters full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a doughnut comes out clean.
  5. Let the doughnuts cool.
  6. In a bowl, mix together the confectioners sugar, hot water, and flavoring. Divide the glaze into five bowls and create your colors for the doughnuts. Dip or spoon the glaze over the doughnuts and allow the glaze to harden.

 

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Valentine’s Day Cupcake Liner Trees

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Valentine's Day Cupcake Liner Trees from MomAdvice.com.

I’m so excited to share with you this easy DIY craft project for Cupcake Liner Trees for Valentine’s Day. These cupcake liner trees are unbelievably cute and fast to create.

I had so much fun creating our yarn trees this winter that I just knew I needed to recreate the magic for Valentine’s Day.  If you have a mantle or coffee table that could use some festive décor, then you will love this easy and inexpensive project. All you need are $10 in materials and you will have two festive trees in less than thirty minutes. Now that is a craft that I can get behind.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to find out how to make these easy DIY Valentine’s Day Cupcake Liner Trees!

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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!

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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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.

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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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How We Successfully Raised $6,000 in Two Weeks for Burkina Faso

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

I could not be prouder of my friends and readers than I am today. Today we were able to give $6,000 in raised funds to our Wells of Hope campaign for Burkina Faso and pitched in another $2,000 raising our total to an incredible $8,000 to build wells. This gift gives up to 4,000 men, women, & children access to clean water.

How did we do it? I am baffled myself! When we initially pitched the idea to the ministry team at our church that we wanted to do this, I had no clue if we would ever be able to pull it off. I am no Momastery, in traffic or in size of influence, but I did believe that my passion for this project could be contagious, if seen in front of the right eyes.

If you are trying to raise funds for a passion project of your own, I want to share with you the strategies I used for this campaign. I believe that there is enough love and money to go around to fund these projects, but it is finding ways to make that voice heard that is essential for funding.

Start With a Clear Plan & Goals

I am a big believer in getting everything on paper and when I came to the team with my big dreams of birthday wishes I didn’t speak vaguely of what I believed I could do. Let me be clear though, saying it out loud is hard. I did not want to let a single person down.  At the same time, knowing that I was trying to commit to a goal, offered motivation for me to really pull through for Burkina Faso. We shared that our family was financially committed to one well and we hoped to raise enough funds for at least two more wells.

I shared every avenue I was willing to tap into, how we could gather our funds, what I would need from the team to get people to connect to our cause, and what would be happening each day in that first week on our site.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Get People Curious About What You Are Doing

I began posting teasers that we were up to something a couple of weeks in advance of launching our project. We wanted to get people excited that something big was going to be happening and that we would be calling on them to be a part of it.  You can do this even if you don’t have a blog or website, but just through your social media channels.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

State Your Needs Clearly So People Know Who They Are Helping

People need to know what they are funding and what organizations they are helping. In a case like ours where there are numerous organizations involved, I tried to clearly state exactly who the partners in this project were, facts about the community & people that would be impacted, and what a donation would mean to this cause.

Saying that we need clean water for people in Africa would not be as impactful as, “One out of three children will probably die before they ever reach the age of ten. The deaths are mostly due to a lack of fresh water. The women of Burkina Faso often walk several miles to a dirty stream or stagnant pool, just to fill a bowl with water.”

Children dying before they are ten?

Women walking for miles to find a water source?

It is awful, but truthful information that calls upon people to help in a very visual way.

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Find an Avenue for Easy Collection

I have been a longtime fan of Pure Charity and knew that I wanted to use this site to spread the message of what we needed. I cannot recommend their site enough for what they can bring to your passion projects.

I could go on and on about why I love them so much, but it all boils down to people being able to connect with your cause, see their money grow, and know how many they have impacted. You can take a peek at my campaign to see how this looked.  I can’t tell you how many people went back in and donated a little more after their first donation to the project, just see the money bar go up a little more. After each donation is given, through Pure Charity, the person is told exactly how many lives their donation impacts. Even if you were only about to offer $10, you knew that you had impacted five people that day once your funds were submitted.

This method of collection was easy and you can connect your organization right to the funds.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Donations Are Great- Whether Big or Small

Unless the organization’s collection form states that you need to have a minimum donation, show people small and approachable ways of donating. Anything over $1 was considered a donation on Pure Charity so I tried to think of things that were a little over $1 that people could “give up” to give a child clean water. A Redbox flick, a Starbucks coffee, a ticket to the latest movie, or a quick stop for a burrito is money that could be spent to give clean water to Burkina Faso.

It worked so well that people were donating after they went through the drive-thru or they gave up their weekly latte run or pizza night for my cause.

The point of this was to prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to give. Every donation was important to me. Every. Dollar.

Connect Your Cause With Your Social Media Channels

If you are active on social media, use it to your advantage and ask your friends to spread the word. My two biggest audiences on social media are Facebook & Instagram.

Here’s a fun fact, I absolutely despise video or hearing myself on video or anything to do with video. That being said, some people like pictures, some people like videos, and some people just like to read a status. I tried to utilize every avenue from the beginning. An intro video connected you to our cause, I did a couple of thank you videos to thank people as we met goals, and we shared lots of pictures. If you want to make quick banners or collages for your cause, PicMonkey is great for your websites and if you are looking to add text to your phone images, I love Rhonna Designs app.

Thank Everyone for Everything Often

Each time we received a donation, I thanked them, whether publicly or privately. I was so grateful to everyone who gave, whether it was a dollar or a hundred dollars. The fact that they connected with my cause and helped meant the world to me.

Anytime I have ever donated to someone and received a thank you, it acted as double validation for what I did. With 121 contributors to our campaign, I tried not to overlook a single person and sent an email or message to them as soon as I could to say thank you.

After all, if we didn’t have these AMAZING friends we could never be sharing our success story with you today. My friends ROCK!

Don’t Stop Once You Reach Your Goal

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.Our goal was to raise enough funds for three wells. In the end, the money kept trickling in and bit by bit we were inching closer to our fourth well. If we would have given up when we reached our goal, we would have never known we could have achieved an additional well.

I’m not done with Burkina Faso though. The water of funds will continue to trickle as I knit my way to another well this year. I am working on my first round of wares for an Etsy shop to give all the profit to Burkina Faso.

If you have a talent for something and a burning desire like this amazing young lady that shared her story with our readers, you can continue raising funds in whatever little ways and pockets of time you have in your day.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Whatever your project, I pray that God blesses you abundantly in it. I also thank each of you for helping us reach and surpass our goal of giving clean water to the people of Burkina Faso. Thanks to your donations, we will have water for up to 4,000 people. What an incredible gift you have given us and these people.

Thank you for celebrating the site’s tenth anniversary with us in such a grand and beautiful way! It solidifies my belief that this is just what God wants me to be doing with my life.

xoxo,

Amy

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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.

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

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