Posts Tagged ‘Walmart Moms’

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care PackageHave you ever received or sent a care package? There is so much joy in the giving and the getting of unexpected mail anymore. Today I want to share how to mail the perfect happy mail care package.

We talk a lot about caring for others whether it is making care packages for the homeless, embracing the scraps of life giving philosophy, knitting chemo caps for others, or how we teach our children compassion and gratitude for what they have.

There are millions of ways to give and we try to live our lives in the “pay it forwardness” philosophy. 

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

It is no secret that our family endured almost a year of unemployment and a mountain of credit card debt that came along with it. I often look back on that time in our lives and wonder how we ever did it.

How did we make that situation work?

How did our marriage survive it?

How did we manage to keep our home and our car?

Do you know someone that is struggling? Sometimes the littlest things can mean the most and today I wanted to show I wanted to share with you some ways you can make a difference in the life of someone who is undergoing financial struggle or unemployment.

Walmart gave me the chance to showcase a project that I was passionate about and I wanted to think of a way we could bless someone else in our life. We decided to make the ultimate care package for someone we love and wanted to show you some ideas of things you could add to a care package for someone YOU love!

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Pack Something Fun

What fun would a care package be without a few fun things in them. When we were struggling financially, one of our our favorite things we would indulge in was board games in the evenings. Board games, puzzles, a gift card to Amazon or Netflix, or a month of Hulu could all be fun things to share in your care packages.

Make your gift even more fun with personal notes, pictures, party confetti, and fun tissue paper. I found birthday candles that spelled, “Happy,” to decorate the top of our gift. These fun additions really make it feel like a real present.

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Pack Something Delicious

If there is one thing that I truly love to share, it is my passion for food. Food gifts are the ultimate in surprises and can be inexpensive to create. In this package, we mailed off my favorite Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Brownies and paired it with some Tazo Chamomile Stress-Free tea.

Other fun food gifts that would be easy to mail are my Sugar & Spice Nut Mix, Honey Nut Granola, Peppermint Marshmallows, Oreo Biscotti, Hot Cocoa or Vanilla Chai Tea Mix, Snickerdoodle Biscotti, Monster Cookie Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, Microwave Peanut Brittle, or Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies…just for a few options to start with!

Be sure to pack them snugly so that they can withstand their travels. I found these smart round foil pans with a sturdy cardboard lid in the baking supplies section of Walmart. I wrapped our brownies snugly in parchment paper and placed our, “happy,” label on the outside.

Although, I understand despite my best efforts, things got damaged in route. If I was doing it all over again, I would secure the entire tin with a good wrap of packing tape around the outside!

If you are mailing these treats to a college student, be sure to snag our cute free printable college coupons for future deliveries!

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

Send Something Practical

Gift cards are a wonderful gift to send in your care package. If you have their address, you can look up what stores are nearby to the area, or ask them where their favorite place is to shop. Choosing a gift card to a superstore is always a nice option because it can be put towards any of their immediate needs around the house or what they might need in their fridge.

Don’t focus on how little or how much you can give on the gift card. ANY amount is always appreciated and will put to good use.

ANY.

 

Mailing the Perfect Happy Mail Care Package

You can make an incredible difference in the life of someone who is struggling financially or unemployed and, in most cases, it won’t even cost you a dime!

Here are some other ideas of how you can help whether you are near OR far! 

Lend an Ear

The most important thing you can do for someone who is having a hard time financially is to just sit and let them talk. Let them share with you the anger that they have over their situation, let them cry tears of grief over the struggles they are enduring, and celebrate with them when those times turn around.

Let them talk about what they feel like talking about and try not to push them to tell more than they feel comfortable with. It is a very brave thing to do to open up and tell someone that you are struggling and it takes time and trust for them to want to share this private information with you.

Offer To Babysit

The #1 cause for divorce is money problems. When a spouse is unemployed, particularly the male in the family, it is such a difficult time in a marriage because so much of one’s pride and self-esteem comes from being able to contribute financially to the family.

The best thing you can do to keep that marriage growing strong is offer to support them by babysitting for them. Give the family the time they need to have a date night or just to have time to quietly do some job searching.

If you have the finances to offer a gift card for a night out, that is a wonderful and thoughtful touch. Think of fun budget-friendly things they could do like going bowling, or a gift card to Barnes & Noble for books or coffee, or a gift certificate to the movie theater.

Better yet, supply a gift that they could use for several nights in like a new board game, an electronic game, a Netflix membership, or ingredients for a fun meal that they could make at home. These are simple gifts that could supply many nights of fun for them during a difficult patch in their marriage.

Meals on Wheels

One of my favorite things to do for people during these times is to just drop off a dinner to them or to bring a meal when I come over to spend time with them. Try to make a big batch of food that could get them through one or two nights when money is tight.

If you lack the cooking gene, head over to the supermarket and pick up a take-and-bake pizza, popcorn, and some break-and-bake cookies. These are likely fun food that have been removed from the grocery budget and will be just as much appreciated as a home cooked meal.

Hire the Unemployed

Check around at your own place of unemployment, contact your friends through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, and tap into as many people in your network as you can to find a job for your loved one. Do your part to get their resume out there!

If you aren’t able to find them a job, consider hiring them for some odds and ends jobs around your house. When one of our family members lost their job, we offered to hire him to remove wallpaper and paint our bathroom. It was a job in our house that we were not looking forward to doing and he was looking for a way to make some extra money. We both felt really good about the project and, in the end, it was the money that helped put the Christmas gifts under their tree. In my opinion, that is a total win-win situation!

Be an Anonymous Giver

Pride gets in the way of sometimes getting the help that someone might need. No one wants to say, “I don’t have money for groceries this month. Can you give me some?”

I have some very prideful people in my life who would never tell me when they were struggling. I have learned that anonymous gifts are sometimes the best kinds of gifts to give in these situations. Mail them a gift card or leave pantry ingredients on their doorstep.

Little Things are Sometimes the Best Things

There are so many little ways that you can help those that are struggling that can add up in big ways. Clean out your pantry and bring over the extra food to someone who is struggling, pick up a movie for them, stock them up on diapers for the baby, buy them detergent or paper products that can typically drain the grocery budget, offer to babysit while they run resumes, pass on your old magazines or books for a sweet little pick-me-up, weed through your children’s clothes and share those hand-me-downs, send them a card that you are thinking of them, pray for them daily, and cheer them up when you talk on the phone.

Even though I don’t like to focus on the negative, here is a little advice on things not to do-

  • Don’t harass them every day to ask if they have found a job yet. Know that you are likely going to be one of the first people that would be contacted and let them talk about their successes when they occur.
  • Don’t criticize their unemployed spouse. As I have said before, marriage is hard when a spouse is unemployed and it is important that you do your best not to contribute to the negativity. Allow them to vent, but don’t fuel the fire.
  • Do your best not to chastise them if they are angry or hurt over what is happening in their lives. Many well-meaning people try to correct anger instead of letting them work through it. Simply saying, “I know this must be tough!” will go a lot further in these situations then correcting their feelings.

As someone who has been on both sides of the fence, you will never know what it will mean to that person to be a steady rock for them to lean on. Try to think beyond yourself and do one nice thing for someone who is struggling (health-wise, financial, job loss, etc..)  today. It will mean more than you will ever know!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in our care package.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

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DIY KOOL-AID Slushies

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

easy_kool_aid_slushies_4

If you have been a reader of mine or have checked out my book, “The Good Life for Less,” I am sure you are familiar with our easy homemade slushies recipe that we use throughout the summer months. Making your own slushies is fun, frugal, and a sweet summertime pastime for my kids. In fact, as soon as school got out, they asked if they could have mom’s infamous homemade slushies to celebrate their last day of school.

easy_kool_aid_slushies_1 The great thing about our easy KOOL-AID slushies is that you can make a different batch every time. We love trying new flavors and now you can find fun ones like watermelon, mixed berry, and even strawberry kiwi.

I am always tweaking my recipes and have tried everything from sugar-free Kool-Aid to make slushies (they did not turn out for us) to reducing the sugar in our slushies to see if the kids notice a taste difference. We decided to drop the sugar to a 1/2 cup in our batch (originally 2/3 cup) and we found that we didn’t notice a big taste difference, but I felt better about sharing this treat with my kids with the lower sugar content.

Do You Have a KOOL-AID Creation To Share?

KOOL AID is working with the Nickelodeon boy band, Big Time Rush (BTR) during their 2013 summer concert tour and would love if you uploaded a unique “KOOL AID Creation” to participate in their fun summertime contest!  Perhaps, you can create your very own slushie creation or other fun project with KOOL-AID?

Walmart shoppers who purchase $6 worth of KOOL AID products can upload an image of their Walmart receipt to the free Shoparoo app on their smart phone or to Shoparoo.com. You will receive a unique code for an exclusive ticket price of $50 for (4) four on Big Time Rush tickets. The ticket purchase can be made at Walmart Ticket Master kiosks, Ticket Master online or through Ticket Master phone orders.

Winners will receive (2) VIP tickets to one of the 37 BTR concerts this summer and an autographed BTR KOOL AID tee , Meet & Greet including photo with the Band.

How fun is that?

easy_kool_aid_slushies_3

We don’t just love our slushies though, I had to showcase these adorable double-insulated mason travel mugs that Walmart has over in their seasonal section of their store.  Our slushies stayed super cold and there were no worries about slushie spills. I ended up buying four of them for myself, so I could sip a little iced cold iced tea or iced coffee on my patio this summer!

Happy slushie creating!!

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DIY KOOL-AID Slushies
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
An easy slushie that you can whip up anytime for a fun treat! Stock up on a variety of KOOL-AID flavors for a variety of slushie fun in your kitchen!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups ice water
  • 1 packet KOOL-AID drink mix (use your favorite flavor)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 cups or 1 full tray of ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients into your blender.
  2. Process until well blended.

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4th of July Flag Cupcake Pick Wreath & Easy Flag Bunting

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com.4th of July happens to be one of my favorite decorating seasons and today I want to show you how to make an easy 4th of July wreath from flag cupcake picks. This 4th of July wreath idea and easy flag bunting were inspired by a picture from a magazine that I found.

Good Housekeeping Magazine This picture from Good Housekeeping magazine caught my eye and I knew I wanted to decorate my front door just like it. Unfortunately, there were no directions on how to create this wreath, what supplies to buy, or how to execute this project. When Walmart challenged me to come up with a 4th of July project for their customers, I just knew that I had to recreate this door.

My husband said I couldn’t do it. His doubt fueled this wreath into its amazing flag glory…even when a little voice in my head wasn’t too sure it would look like the picture. If I can make a wreath out of yarn, out of coffee filters, out of Peeps for goodness sake, how could I fail at  a simple cupcake pick wreath?

If you are not crafty this is the project for you. It requires no sewing, gluing, cutting, or any other crafty-type behavior. I think that is why I am most excited about it because it is just so easy to do! 

Let’s get started with what you need to tackle this fun patriotic project!

4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com. 4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com. 4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com. 4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies List

Above are some pictures of the supplies you will need (for visual learners, like myself!) Prices listed are what they are listed at currently at the store!

  • 1- 16″ foam wreath form (that is flat on the back)- $6.99
  • 6 packages of 120 count flag cupcake picks (Note: These are NOT available at Walmart stores. You can find these, however, at your local party supply store)- $2.99 per box (approximately)
  • Jute Rope- $3.24
  • 12- 4×6 US Flags (found on the ends of the aisles in the office supplies)- $.68 each
  • 2- 20 count packages of mini clothespins (over in the office supplies)- $2.48 each

4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com.

  1. Take your flag cupcakes and insert them on a slight angle into your foam wreath form. These will not slide in and out easily so you will have to put a little oomph behind it.
  2. Continue filling them in, around and around until you can no longer see your wreath form peeking through. About a box of the flag cupcake picks (120 of them) filled one quarter of my wreath.
  3. Once the front is filled, build up the behind it, but with a thinner layer, just to camouflage the back of the wreath a bit. Make sure not to stack these too deep so that the wreath can still lay flush against your door.
  4. You can fill in the center of the wreath as well with flags, again adding a thinner layer just to hide any of your wreath form, until all you can see is a sea of little flags. It took 720 flags to fill this wreath form. Yes, your fingers will hurt, but you will be so happy about your wreath, you will forget all about the pain!

4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com.

Easy Flag Bunting from MomAdvice.com.Now that you have your wreath done, we can create our adorable flag bunting to go around the outside of your door, to frame your wreath!

Easy Flag Bunting from MomAdvice.com.

  1. Disassemble your flags from their mini poles. These are stapled on so I just pulled them off, or you can use a staple remover to remove the staples from the flags.
  2. Take two mini clothespins and clip the flags to the jute twine, spacing them evenly, until all twelve have been attached.
  3. Leaving a little bit of length, clip the end of the twine to finish your bunting.

Easy Flag Bunting from MomAdvice.com.This easy bunting could be added to a doorway, dress up a mantle, to frame out your patio doors, or to decorate a ledge for the holiday. I love that it is so sweet and so simple to create.

4th of July Cupcake Pick Wreath from MomAdvice.com.Here is a side-by-side comparison of my door and the door I spotted in the magazine. I am so proud how this turned out and I love that these decorations can be used year after year for the holiday!

I look forward to sharing more fun patriotic projects in the next few weeks with you! I hope you enjoyed today’s easy 4th of July craft projects!

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Cooking With Kids: Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Monday, June 17th, 2013

rotini_with_turkey_meatballs_header
As my kids get older, I am beginning to learn more the importance of cooking with them. Today I am sharing our family’s favorite summer pasta recipe of Rotini With Turkey Meatballs and I wanted to share with you a fun way to involve your kids in the cooking process.

Gourmet Garden HerbsGourmet Garden HerbsWalmart wanted to give us the chance to share about the Gourmet Garden herb line that you can find at your store. We are no strangers to the beauty of Gourmet Garden though and I guarantee if you open my fridge on any given day, you will find a tube of herbs in there.

There are several reason why I genuinely love these handy herbs in a tube. For us, it offers a little money-savings for seldom used herbs that need to be added to dishes. I hate throwing out herbs that go bad within a week where I simply need a pinch or so to create a dish. Garden Gourmet herbs last for up to three months, giving me the chance to make that dish many times over before I have to give my tube a toss. 

The second reason I really love these herbs is because it is an easy way to bring your kids into the kitchen with you and get them cooking and spicing dishes with you, without ever getting out that knife and cutting board. 

The bonus in all of this though is that these herbs are organically-grown and gluten-free; two things that we know are important to many of our readers!  

Basically, we love them and have been true Garden Gourmet enthusiasts for a long time!

Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Throw on your mom’s apron, should you so choose, and let’s get cooking in the kitchen this summer with your favorite helpers. Both of my kids were very excited about getting to help make this dish since it just so happens to be our Dad’s favorite dish.

Rotini With Turkey MeatballsRotini With Turkey MeatballsRotini With Turkey MeatballsRotini With Turkey MeatballsRotini With Turkey Meatballs

Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Meatballs are fun to mix, to shape, and…of course, to eat! We made our meatballs with Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (we just remove the meat from the casing for preparation) and mix it up with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, a little squeeze of ketchup, lightly beaten eggs, and the Garlic and Italian Herbs from the Garden Gourmet herb line.

Roll out the meatballs into roughly the same size shape and place them gently on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake these at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. The size pictured above were ready in about 12 minutes.

Rotini With Turkey MeatballsRotini With Turkey Meatballs

Rinse four cups of cherry tomatoes and then (with mom or dad’s help) cut the tomatoes in half for the sauce.

Let the kids shape those meatballs while you prepare the sauce for the dish. I used the Garden Gourmet Chunky Garlic paste, the fresh tomatoes, and a little chicken broth to make a light summer sauce. If your kids aren’t a fan of the big tomatoes in the sauce, utilize an immersion blender or carefully pour the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sauce back to the pan and slide your meatballs into the sauce until they are warm.

Prepare the pasta as directed on the packaging and drain.

Rotini With Turkey MeatballsFinish by tossing all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and add fresh Garden Gourmet basil in the dish and lightly toss until everything is incorporated.

Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I forget how much fun it really is to cook with my kids in the kitchen and just how proud they are when they contribute to the dish. They couldn’t wait to show their Dad their meatballs they made and we all agreed that they were far more delicious than the ones I make by myself.

I hope you can get in the kitchen and mix up something delicious with your family and that our recipe offers some inspiration for your family cooking time together! 

Rotini With Turkey Meatballs

Rotini With Turkey Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An easy summer pasta dish made with fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage meatballs. This one is a crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound Sweet Italian Turkey Sausages (remove the casings)
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden chunky garlic
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden Basil
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, garlic, herbs,salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine.
  2. Make your meatballs the standard size and put them on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes.
  4. In a large pot, heat your olive oil and then add your chunky garlic paste for about thirty seconds. Next, heat chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Drain the pasta and then add the meatball mixture and two tablespoons of basil to the dish. Toss lightly to incorporate.

What’s your favorite dish to cook with your kids?

 

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A Monster of a Father’s Day Gift: Monster Cookie Bars & Monster Printable Cards For Dad

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Father’s Day is just around the corner & today we wanted to share a monster of a Father’s Day gift with a cute spin on the monster theme with easy monster cookie bars and printable monster cards for a special Dad in your life.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

This week’s challenge from Walmart was to create an inexpensive Father’s Day gift that would wow your Dad. Well, if your dad is anything like our Dad, he is certainly wowed with homemade treats and funny cards with a great sense of humor. Our idea was to mix up a batch of thick and delicious Monster Cookie Bars made with rolled oats, peanut butter, mini M&M’s (found over in their candy aisle), and chocolate chips.

Monster Cookies can be a bit of a monster to create as a drop cookie because of their monster size. I choose to echo the words of an amazing woman I once heard speak these wise words…

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Wise, right?

Bar cookies get a big fist pump from this busy mom and if a celebration requires a cookie, I often rely on these chocolate chip cookie bars to get us through whatever baking requirements are made for those occasions. These Monster Cookie Bars are equally delicious and offer that crusty exterior with that soft interior that makes, in my humble opinion, the perfect cookie.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

What Father’s Day would be complete without a card to accompany your sweet gift? We are so excited to debut these adorable Monster cards that you can print out to attach with your Monster Cookie Bars for your favorite Dad. We have included three fun printable cards for Father’s Day and then 1 that could be used for any occasion to accompany your sweet treat. Print these printables out on white card stock  and you will be all set for this Father’s Day!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.



Printable Monster Cards from MomAdvice.com.

Download Your FREE Monster Card Printables HERE:

Happy Father’s Day From Your Monster FREE printable card

Your Gift is a Monster! FREE printable card

Eat All the Cookies FREE printable card

We Are Your Spawn FREE printable card

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

I can admit that this family has had Monsters on our brain after getting a sneak peek at the Monsters University movie that is set to hit theaters on June 21st. While our family was at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, we got an exclusive sneak peek at the film. It is FANTASTIC, and dare I say it, even funnier than the first one. I have no doubt that your family will love it!

Our Monster Cookie Bars would really pull together a fun family night out to see this fantastic film and you can find loads of fun Monsters supplies in the party favors aisle of your Walmart store including fun cups, plates, and other party favors for an inexpensive night to enjoy while tackling your summer bucket list or our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.

Now that you have the printables, here is the deliciously easy and tasty recipe for these Monster Cookie Bars. We recommend preparing these in a metal 9×13 pan for best results!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Monster Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 15
 
Monster cookies made easy in a bar cookie. Be sure to pair these easy cookies with our free Monster printables.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut buter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini M&M's (approximately half a bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Mix in oats until well combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and mini M&M's
  7. Press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and set in the middle. Let cool completely in baking dish then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

 Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad readers (I know you’re out there!) and here’s hoping you get spoiled by a few of your favorite monsters!

Be sure to check back this week for more great Father’s Day gifts on a budget!

 

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Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

In the summer I am always looking for fun summer cocktails to share with my girlfriends and this blueberry sangria lemonade is the perfect summer drink to share with a good friend. You won’t believe how easy this blueberry sangria lemonade is to create and just how easy it is to drink…well, you might believe that last part of the sentence. This drink just screams summer, backyard fun, and begs to be enjoyed poolside.

Each month Walmart is challenging me to create a recipe using one of their produce items. Last month I tackled strawberries with a fun baked strawberry doughnut recipe and this month it is all about the blueberries with this easy blueberry sangria lemonade recipe.

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Blueberries are one of our favorite summer fruits and we love to enjoy our summer bounty all year long. A few years ago I started freezing my berries in a different way using the Cook’s Illustrated method for freezing my berries and I can’t rave enough about how much better my frozen berries taste. You should definitely add this to your summer to-do list this year.

As we await our annual berry picking season, I wanted to offer some advice for selecting the perfect berries at the supermarket. Be sure to select  a package of firm, plump berries with an indigo blue color and a silvery white frost. Avoid any with a green or red tint, which indicates under ripe berries. You will want to make sure there are no juice stains at the bottom of the carton or moldy or crushed berries buried inside of the cartons as well when selecting those berries.

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Now that you have the perfect berries, you can start incorporating them in this easy sangria. All of the ingredients can be found at your local Walmart store. I recommend mixing this one up the night before your gathering to really allow the flavors to incorporate together and for the best flavor.

You don’t have to splurge on the wine on this one, but make sure that you buy one that you would enjoy drinking. I love the budget-friendly and always delicious, Barefoot Chardonnay for this recipe because it fits sweetly in my budget and really tastes great for an affordable wine.

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

If you grow mint in your garden, this is another fun drink to add a little mint to for fresh flavor. And don’t forget, that mint can be put to good use in our Perfect Mojito recipe too in those long and hot summer months!

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These blueberry sangrias scream summertime. Let the flavors meld together overnight for a truly delicious drink!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 (12-ounce) can frozen concentrated pink lemonade
  • 1 bottle (750ml) Chardonnay, (I love Barefoot Chardonnay for this)
  • 3 cups lemon lime soda
  • ½ cup Brandy
  • Fresh mint for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld together.
  2. Serve chilled.

Looking for more great blueberry recipes? Be sure to try these eight ideas for blueberry recipes!

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Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint Recipe

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint Recipe

Summer is just around the corner and before it gets here I wanted to share my favorite homemade sidewalk chalk paint recipe. Making DIY sidewalk chalk paint couldn’t be easier and many of the supplies are likely lurking right in your cupboard.

Today’s project is sponsored by Walmart and you can find all of the supplies you need to create this easy recipe, right at your local store, from the brushes to the food coloring to the paint storage containers.

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint RecipeDid you know that you can make sidewalk chalk paint from three simple ingredients? Homemade sidewalk chalk paint is made from a mixture of cornstarch, water, and food coloring. When visiting the baking aisle to get your food coloring, be sure to pick up the brightest and most vivid colors you can find to really make the colors pop on your sidewalk.

Homemade_Sidewalk_Chalk_Paint_Recipe_4 Proper storage of your paints will help them go farther. I love to grab lidded disposable containers to store the extra paint in and with a quick rinse of your brushes, your supplies are ready for the next day of painting.

Summer Bucket List

Of course, this isn’t the only recipe we have to keep your kids entertained in the summer! I am so excited to share with you that I will be doing another 100 Days of Summer AGAIN (third year running!) on Pinterest and will be sharing 100 SCREEN-FREE, FREE or PRACTICALLY FREE activities to keep your kids entertained this summer. Be sure to start following on Pinterest so you don’t miss the big reveal and so you can begin adding a few of these ideas to your summer bucket list! 

I think this year’s list will be the best one yet, but in the meantime, here are a few of our favorite activities we did this past year to get you inspired!

Summer Fun Inspiration

Glow-In-The-Dark JELL-O

The World’s Greatest Homemade Bubbles

Homemade Butterbeer Lattes

Easy Coffee Filter Posies

Easy Homemade Playdough

How to Make Car S’mores

5.0 from 2 reviews
Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Kid Recipes
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Skip buying sidewalk chalk paint and make your own with this easy DIY recipe!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • Food coloring (as much as you desire)
Instructions
  1. Mix equal parts of cornstarch with water. Add your food coloring. This mixture will be thick. Use your paintbrushes to paint your sidewalk or driveway. Store excess paint in airtight containers.

I can’t wait to share more fun summer ideas with you and in the meantime, I hope you can give this easy sidewalk chalk paint recipe a spin in your kitchen!
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How to Spray Paint Furniture

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

How to Spray Paint Furniture Painting furniture can be time consuming that is why I have fallen in love with spray painting my furniture to get a fresh new look with a small time investment. Today I am going to show you how to spray paint your furniture to give an old piece in your home a new lease on life with just spray paint and an easy antiquing and distressing technique.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Choosing a spray paint can be a lot of fun and Walmart asked me to share about a new product line that they are now carrying at their stores that I think you guys will really like. It is the Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X paint.

The thing that makes this paint special is that it can cover twice the square footage of other general purpose spray paints.  This new paint contains 44% more solids which creates a higher performance than other paints and gives you better coverage with fewer passes. What makes the paint economical is that one can performs like two cans, so it saves you time and money.  The price also fits nicely into a DIY’ers budget at a mere $3.77 per can

How_To_Spray_Paint_Furniture_1
I love this corner in our office, but have not loved this side table for many years. These chairs are so fun, but the table added no personality to this corner. I had planned to donate it to Goodwill, but I wondered if I could give this piece a spray paint face lift that would reflect this fun space. I decided to give the table a makeover with a little spray paint and antiquing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Supplies Needed to Spray Paint Furniture

 

Spray Paint Primer (gray if doing a dark color or white if doing a light color)

1-2 Cans Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X, any shade (I am using Moss Green), available in the Spray Paint aisle of your local Walmart Store

Rust-Oleum Standard Spray Grip (in the same aisle)

Rust-Oleum Decorative Glaze in Java Brown

Sander

Sand Paper

Rags

Hardware (optional) or spray paint to paint it

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Your Furniture

  • To begin, prepare your surface by wiping the entire piece down with a clean cloth. Disassemble any drawers and hardware to prepare it for painting.
  • Next, give the entire piece a good sanding to smooth out any imperfections. Sand any edges with a piece of sandpaper and use a sander to smooth the top of your piece.
  • Once the piece is fully sanded, wipe it down with a damp cloth to prepare it for priming.
  • To help prevent drips and to make sure we get into every crevice of this piece with paint, we are going to start with our piece INVERTED. I promise, it is going to help the painting process go so much smoother than if you start with it upright.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Starting with your piece inverted, begin spray painting it with your primer. Be sure to give your primer a good shake and begin priming your surface well.
  • Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray your primer in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Put the piece right side up and finish priming the top. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Repeat the same process with your choice of Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X in your favorite shade. Once the piece is fully painted, allow it to dry overnight before glazing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Using a coarse sandpaper, begin roughing up the edges on your piece to create a more antique look.
  • Using a clean rag, dip your rag in your glaze and then begin applying in a circular motion to your piece.
  • With a clean and damp cloth, remove as much of the glaze as you would like. I again, removed this in a circular motion from the piece until it added a hint of variation to the piece, but didn’t look sponged.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  •  If you desire, you can spray paint your hardware. As you know hardware can be expensive to replace and sometimes older pieces have more custom fitting hardware so spray paint can be a great way to freshen it up. We chose to replace the wooden handle with a black hardware piece and then spray painted the old gold accessories black with a can I had in my craft supplies. We have spray painted many a handle in our home and you would never know it wasn’t that color originally.

How to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHere is my finished piece. I am so darn proud of it and love how vintage this piece looks thanks to the glazing and sanding process that I did on it. In full disclosure, there were some missteps along the way.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Temperature Changes Effect Spray Paint

If you live in Indiana, you know that the drops and changes in temperature can be quite dramatic and that is just what happened when I painted this. I put a final coat on my perfect table before I went to bed and woke up to a table and drawers that had bubbled in the night. Try to pick a time of day when the temperature is warmer and will hold steady (nothing below fifty degrees) to prevent bubbling of paint. I used the advice provided by Kate, at Centsational Girl, on what to do if your spray paint bubbles and it worked like a charm.

Shake Your Spray Paint Can Well

Having that handy trigger on the spray paint makes it easy to paint quickly, but I forgot to shake the can every so often to keep my paint looking even and glossy. You definitely will want to make sure you shake it very well at the beginning, and shake it every so often when painting with it.

Who Knew You Needed to Be So Tidy?

Make sure after sanding that you really have a nice clear surface to begin your painting, otherwise you will have a crummy surface…literally. The same can be said for choosing a nice clean rag when doing glazing and keeping the piece as clean as you can, which is super difficult if you are in your filthy garage like me!

Distressing Can Hide Flaws

Distressing the piece more not only helped me minimize the bubbles, but it also added character to the piece. For my first spray painted furniture piece, I would definitely recommend it the first time to help you get the hang of how to paint with spray paint.

Practice Makes Perfect

This piece isn’t my best work, but I love it in spite of its flaws. As with all skills, it takes a little practice to get the hang of spray painting furniture. Even though I struggled a bit with my first project, I can’t wait to paint my record cabinet in our office next in the same shade and now I know what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to spray painting my furniture.

How to Spray Paint Furniture How to Spray Paint Furniture

What a difference a day makes? Isn’t she lovely? She has certainly brightened up this corner of our home! I highly recommend giving this new paint a try! Fast coverage and an inexpensive way to add a pop of color in your home!

 

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Have you ever spray painted furniture before? What is your advice?

 

 

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Baked Strawberry Doughnuts

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Baked Strawberry DoughnutsIf there is one thing this family loves it is baked doughnuts. Today we baked up a bath of baked strawberry doughnuts that would be perfect to enjoy during the summer months. Walmart challenged me to share a fresh new take on a strawberry recipe and I couldn’t wait to share this doughnut recipe with you!

Fresh StrawberriesPicking the perfect strawberries for your dishes is relatively easy compared to other fruits where the flesh is hidden from view. I always pick the package up and examine underneath since bad berries can be nestled on the underside of the package. Be sure to select berries that are not overly ripe, mushy, or are starting to mold. Since berries have such a short shelf life, you want to make sure you are really off to a good start with the best berries from the store.

Did you know strawberries taste best at room temperature? If you are eating them whole, pull them out of the fridge one hour before eating to eat them at their peak flavor.

Baked Strawberry Doughnuts

Baked Strawberry Doughnuts

I found a great recipe for beautifully baked strawberry doughnuts from Cooking Classy that I couldn’t wait to try. To really heighten the berry flavor of these doughnuts, the glaze incorporates both fresh and freeze dried berries. You can find freeze-dried strawberries over in the same aisle as the nuts, granola bars, and dried fruits. When these freeze-dried berries are broken, it creates the pretty color and adds a burst of berry flavor to the glaze that would be mild in comparison with the fresh berries.

The flavor of these is surprisingly light thanks to the buttermilk and fresh berries that are thrown into the batter. The glaze adds that bright berry flavor to the coating and makes these baked doughnuts feel truly indulgent.

Baked Strawberry Doughnuts

Baked Strawberry Doughnuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped strawberries (I use my hand chopper to chop these)
  • Strawberry Glaze
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped strawberries
  • ½ cup (6 g) freeze dried strawberries, finely crushed to powder (place in a Ziploc bag, crush with rolling pin)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease doughnut pans well by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Make a well in center of mixture and set aside.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs and then pour into well in flour.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture just until combined, then fold in ⅔ cup finely chopped strawberries. Spoon 2½ Tbsp batter evenly into each well of the doughnut pans.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 11-13 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of doughnut comes out clean.
  7. Prepare glaze just before dipping cooled doughnuts. In a mixing bowl, combine ½ cup finely chopped strawberries and half of the powdered sugar. Stir until mixture starts to become moistened, then allow to rest 1 minute.
  8. Add in remaining powdered sugar and freeze dried strawberry powder and stir until well combined . Use glaze immediately. If glaze is too thick, thin with 1 tablespoon of milk.
  9. Allow to cool several minutes in doughnut pan then invert onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Once cool dip top halves of doughnuts into glaze and allow some of excess to run off, then return to wire rack, glazed side facing upward.
  11. Transfer doughnuts to freezer to allow glaze to set, about 5 minutes.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Cooking Classy.

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How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent (A Picture Tutorial)

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Homemade laundry detergent is one of those things that is both easy to make and can save your family a lot of money at the grocery store. Today I wanted to share with you my recipe for homemade laundry detergent. Making homemade detergent is easier than you might think and the cost comparison makes it worth the small amount of effort required to make this.

Walmart challenged me to take on a fun Spring project and today I want to share with you a recipe and some ideas for spring cleaning your laundry routine by making your own homemade laundry detergent.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Homemade Batch of Laundry Detergent?

Homemade detergent is made up of three ingredients: Fels-Naptha or Ivory Soap, Washing Soda, & Borax. The current pricing on these three ingredients is:

Fels Naptha Soap- $.97 per bar

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 ounce box)- $3.24

Borax (76 ounce box)- $3.38

One batch of laundry detergent takes one cup of the borax, one cup of the washing soda, and one bar of soap. Dividing the total materials required to make one batch of soap means that it would cost $1.81 total to make a batch. At one to two tablespoons per load, it comes in at a mere $.04, compared to $0.17-.0.21 per load  like the other name brands. That’s a pretty impressive savings! When you multiply that savings by a billion loads a week (if you live in our house), that is some serious savings!

Where Do You Find Borax, Washing Soda, & Fels Naptha Soap?

These supplies are all right in a row in at your local Walmart and are located on the opposite side of the laundry detergents, over by the stain removers! Why am I sharing this information? Simply because I could not find it and wanted to save you the trouble of walking up and down the detergent aisle like a lost little child like me!

Is Laundry Detergent Hard to Make or Time Consuming?

Some of the most time-strapped people I know are making their own detergent. I was able to make a triple batch of this soap in about fifteen minutes and that is along with taking pictures for this tutorial. The real time-consuming process of it is grating the soap, but if you have a food processor, that can be accomplished in no time at all.

How Do you Grate the Soap?

You can definitely use an old-fashioned cheese grater, but the soap can clump up and not completely dissolve in your load unless you grate it extremely fine. I allow my food processor to do the work for me because it is much easier to do and gives you the opportunity to also double or triple your batches of laundry detergent, in no time flat.

The process of grating the soap is easier than it sounds. You simply want to cut your bars of soap in half lengthwise so that you can feed them through the shoot of your processor. Assemble the processor with your cheese grater attachment and feed your soap in slowly and gently through the top shoot. Once all the soap has been grated, dump it into a bowl and remove the cheese grater attachment. Reassemble the processor with the basic blade and then put the grated soap back in. Spin it again until the soap resembles fine small pellets. That is it! Your soap is ready to be incorporated in your laundry detergent!

Is Homemade Detergent Safe to Use With High-Efficiency (HE) Washers?

The true beauty about this homemade detergent is that it doesn’t have a lot of suds. The main reason you can’t use laundry detergents not made for HE washers is because of the suds factor. Thanks to the small amount of suds and the minimal amount of soap you need to use to wash your loads, it is the perfect detergent to use with your HE washer! You can use this homemade laundry detergent with confidence!

Is This Homemade Laundry Detergent Septic Friendly?

The ingredients in this soap contain zero phosphates and zero fillers (like montmorillonite clay) that cause commercial powder detergents to clog lines. I am sure other items that you have lurking in your home are less septic friendly than this one so this is a perfectly safe product to make and use.

Now that you know all about it, let’s get started on our project!

Supplies Needed:

1 box of Borax

1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap (or more if you plain to double, triple, or quadruple your batch)

Measuring cups

Jar for Storage (found in the kitchen supplies)

Coffee Scoop (found in the kitchen supplies aisle, optional, but is great for perfect measuring of your detergent)

How to Make Your Detergent

4.8 from 5 reviews
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Homemade laundry detergent can be made with just three ingredients! Try this simple recipe and enjoy the savings!
Ingredients
  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha)
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda
Instructions
  1. Shred your bars of soap as shown in the tutorial above.
  2. Mix one cup of borax, one cup of washing soda and the grated soap in a large bowl until incorporated well.
  3. Use 1 tablespoon per load (or 2 tablespoons for heavily soiled loads).
  4. Store in a glass jar or well-sealed plastic container.

Do you make your own laundry detergent? What is your winning recipe for the perfect homemade laundry detergent? Feel free to share your tips!

 

 

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