Posts Tagged ‘Walmart Moms’

Homemade Whole Wheat Toasted Tarts

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I love, love, love breakfast tarts and today I wanted to share with you a cute homemade whole wheat toasted tart version of this delicious treat that you can make right in your own kitchen. This recipe for whole wheat toasted tarts is so delicious that you won’t believe how much yum can be packed into one little treat.

These whole wheat toasted tarts incorporate a little whole wheat flour and in lieu of a frosting topping, I have mixed raw sugar & wheat germ for a sweet and toasty combination of deliciousness that is a little bit healthier than sprinkles and frosting (although we do love sprinkles and frosting around here too!).

I had never eaten a homemade toasted tart before and can I say…holy yum?! These are flaky, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and just the right balance of filling and crust.

I hit my local Walmart store to grab supplies for this yummy treat. They offer absolutely delicious gourmet Bonne Maman fruit preserves that have become a special treat in our house for everything from waffle topping to my kid’s peanut butter & jellies. They retail for $3.95 each and come in delicious berry combinations, strawberry, cherry, and wild blueberry. One of these days I will get the hang of canning, but for now, these are my go-to preserves and make a delicious filling for homemade toasted tarts.

Just like my all butter pie crust (you can check out a picture tutorial over there),  I employ the use of my food processor to create an easy crust without the kneading. To make sure I don’t overwork the dough, I only use the Pulse on my food processor so I can make sure that I have a very tender dough. This is really essential for a flaky crust especially since we are creating this dough with whole wheat flour incorporated in it.

You can roll your dough out on a well-floured surface or roll it between two pieces of parchment paper. I highly recommend the parchment paper since this dough is a sticky one!

Did I mention sticky? This dough is a tricky little beast for a novice chef. Refrigeration of your crust is really essential for nice crisp edges and workable dough. The experts advise chilling your dough before using it and then chilling your tarts before you bake them to retain their shape. I do the same tactic with my sugar cookies and it yields crisp results. This will be doubly important if you live somewhere with a humid climate or are working in a hot kitchen.

My advice, chill out!

Seriously, just chill out for as long as you can!

My crunchy & sweet topping is raw sugar mixed with wheat germ. A generous sprinkle of this adds another layer of deliciousness. Although the dough is chock-full of butter (as all good crusts are!), there is very little sugar in the dough itself and the raw sugar adds a crunchy texture as well as a little sweetness to this homemade delight.

These little toasty tarts were meant to be cut in perfect measurements with crisp corners.

I am no baker though, so these are imperfect…

Just like me!

The kids never noticed the difference and busy moms don’t have time for perfection when it comes to snacks.

Can I get an, “Amen?”

Toasted Tart Filling Ideas

Fruit Preserve Filling: 3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam, 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water. Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Filling: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, & 4 teaspoons flour. Whisk together.

Chocolate Filling: 9 tablespoons mini chocolate chips or 9 tablespoons Nutella. Spread or sprinkle chocolate filling.

Homemade Whole Wheat Toasted Tarts
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
Surprise the kids with a homemade version of this favorite breakfast treat. Be sure to visit the post for filling ideas for your homemade whole wheat toasted tarts.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
  • 1 additional large egg (for brushing on the pastry)
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
Instructions
  1. Process flour, sugar, and salt together until combined.
  2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible.
  3. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days or for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about ⅛" thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9" x 12". Laying a 9" x 13" pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9" x 12" rectangle of dough.
  7. Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3" x 4" rectangles.
  8. Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle.
  9. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides.
  10. Brush the tops of the pastry with the remainder of the egg and then sprinkle the wheat germ and raw sugar topping on top of your tart.
  11. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.
  12. Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
  13. Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25-28 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

Recipe Adapted from King Author Flour.

 

Afraid to tackle a homemade crust? I get it! You can find an easy DIY Pop Tart made from store-bought crust over here!

 


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DIY Peep Wreath With Rolled Ribbon Rosette

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Easter is just around the corner and today’s DIY Easter Wreath is an adorable Peep Wreath created with that infamous Easter candy and adorned with a simple rolled ribbon rosette. Peep wreaths are easy to create for the Easter season and are inexpensive Easter decoration to add to adorn a wall or interior door of your home.

Here is a picture of the supplies you will need for this craft and all of the supplies for this tutorial can be found at your local Walmart store. You will need one 14″ straw wreath (leave this covered in the plastic wrap), 12 packages of Peeps in whatever color your heart desires, 1 yard of rosette ribbon (this will need to be cut in the fabric department), 1 piece of white felt, toothpicks, hot glue gun, and glue sticks. 

As an aside, if you haven’t visited the craft section of the store in awhile, you will be amazed at the new ribbon & trim offerings they are carrying. If making a flower isn’t your thing, they also have a variety of pre-made flowers by the hair and new baby accessories line that you could use in lieu of making the flower I am going to show you today.  It had been awhile since my last visit, and I was a little overwhelmed with the new choices available!

Assembling the wreath is easy and can be done one of two ways.  Poke your toothpick through your Peep almost until the toothpick pokes out of the top and then push your toothpick through your straw wreath OR you can just poke the toothpick directly in to your wreath and then stick your Peep on top of it.

My only aside to this is that I do think that if you are planning to keep the wreath, I would add a dab of hot glue to each of the Peeps. The idea of just skewering with a toothpick just didn’t work for my wreath due to the depth of how I positioned all of these. They really needed a little extra hold especially the Peeps that were on the bottom and inverted upside down. 

Find a design that makes sense for you. I did three rows of Peeps with them all uniform and in a row.  My Type-A personality does not allow me to be whimsical with design. I want them all in a row, the right way, all in a line. If you know me, this would not surprise you at all.  To add depth, I also did a few in between rows of two Peeps (as pictured above).

Once again, I would recommend hot gluing a bit as you go to add a little extra security, otherwise, you will hear those sad little plops of Peeps committing suicide and jumping ship from the wreath. It is heartbreaking, but can you blame them?

If you do your wreath right, you will end up with six Peeps to spare and Peep dust all over your table. I can only give you an estimate on the number though (give or take a few) since I find Peeps (and Peep dust) awfully delicious!

You may remember this Rolled Rosette tutorial from this adorable Easter bow I made my daughter last year to go with her Easter outfit.

To start your rolled ribbon rosette,  you will want to start with one of the roses on the ribbon to create the center of your pretty flower. Now all you need to do is start twisting your ribbon in between each of the little roses (find those spot where there is only tulle like I have pictured above)  add a dab of hot glue, and then twist again, glue again, and repeat. If you twist the ribbon tightly, you will have a tighter and flatter flower. If you twist a little looser, you will get more of the petal effect with the frayed edges working their way out more on the ribbon. Either way, it will be beautiful. Keep twisting until you reach almost the end of the ribbon. Add a dab of glue and tuck it into the back of your bow.

Finish by cutting a circle out of felt. You can use a drinking glass to trace your circle on the felt or just freehand it. This felt circle will hold all of that ribbon secure and together underneath your Rolled Ribbon Rosette Hair Bow. Hot glue your felt circle to the back of your flower. Hold this for a couple of seconds to secure it.

Once you have secured your felt circle, add more glue and attach it wherever you want on your Peep wreath. Feel free to add other rolled rosettes like these or cute felted loopy bows or just add a fun fabric bow. As you can see, the possibilities for adorning your wreath are endless.

This wreath makes me so happy and is a fun nod to the season. The best part? It will cost you about $20 in supplies (assuming you have a glue gun, glue sticks, & some scissors in your craft supplies like me!)

Be sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for more fabulous Easter projects! In the meantime, try some Kool-Aid dyed eggs, bake a batch of Bunny Bread in your bread machine, make a cute hair accessory to go with your daughter’s Easter outfit this year, or try your hand at marbleizing some eggs. These are just a few of my favorite projects you will find for the Easter season on the blog. 

Be sure to also check out all of the fun Easter offerings this year that are offered at your local Walmart store for all of your Easter needs!

 

 

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DIY Command Center (For Small Spaces)

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Small spaces often come with big organizational challenges. When you don’t have spare closets, only have minimal wall space, and struggle with tiny rooms, creating a DIY command center for your home can be a challenge. Today’s tutorial offers some quick ideas for creating your own DIY Command Center in your home.

Here is what I have been struggling with in this corner of my home. The kids were driving me crazy when they came home from school because they would immediately dump everything in this corner and throw their papers all over my kitchen counter when they got home.

The real question is were they really driving me crazy or was it because they really didn’t have a place that they could call their own?

The coat rack in our entry was too high for them to reach, there was nowhere for their backpacks to go, and the paper situation needed a designated spot other than on top of my kitchen counter while I am trying to prepare the family dinner.

I headed to our local Walmart to see what organizational tools I could find and was excited to discover the perfect solution for our little corner. I found this Mainstays Pub Mirror ($22.96) for our kids to use for their coats over in the home decor section of the store. In the closet organization section, I found a Mainstays Seagrass Basket ($12.99) for storing our magazines and umbrellas.

A seldom used storage ottoman was moved underneath for housing the backpack and briefcase clutter and also offers one of my children an extra little boost to climb up and put her backpack away.

Since paper clutter was quickly becoming out of control, I found an upright file folder organizer and colorful file folders for organizing the whole family. The kids each now have an IN and OUT folder. If they need something signed, they put it in the IN folder for me for signatures and I give it back to them by putting those items in the OUT folder, that they can check before they leave for school. Special memorabilia that is worth saving still resides in their decorative boxes in their rooms.

This small compartment organizer for keys, sunglasses, and other things that seem to get misplaced rests on this half moon table for easy finding and grabbing in the morning. Above this table is our family calendar so we can keep track of important events. Just like every other family I know, the calendar is filled to the brim and we have a lot to keep track of these days.

We moved our clock to the other wall  and I decided to add a frame to this wall with some new art work. I found this awesome free printable (literally) over on the Funky Polkadot Giraffe. I printed it on cardstock at home (free) and then framed it in this Canopy picture frame that already included a matte.  I really love how this turned out and that it adds another fun decorating addition to our walls.

This room has been going through a bit of a transformation now that we are finally figuring out what we really love and are starting to get our own sense of style.  We gave our glider chair to our in-laws, sold our two checked chairs through a community Facebook group, and donated our old couch. We kept the same neutral color on the walls, but decided to update our accessories and add some much needed furniture back into this room.

This is my absolute favorite room in our house. It has replaced my other favorite room in our house (our home office) thanks to the addition of the record player, the comfy chair that I found on deep clearance at a furniture store, and I just love the nautical feel of this room which makes me oh-so-happy!

Now that we have a Command Center, albeit a small one, this room now makes me even happier and renews my commitment that even if you have a small home, you can make any space a functional space for your family. As our reminder to our commitment to enjoy living small, I added this print to our wall. It makes me happy every time I come down the stairs and reminds me of what is important.

Small homes do come with challenges, but they also come with many rewards!

Do you have a command center in your home? How do you organize the after school chaos? Feel free to share here!

 

 

 

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Valentine’s Dinner Date At Home: Peanut-Ginger Chicken Noodles

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

I can’t remember the last time my husband and I went out for Valentine’s Day. My favorite thing to do for Valentine’s Day is to plan an elegant feast for us at home and wow my husband with my cooking. Valentine’s Day dinner dates at home are something that I look forward to every year and I can’t wait to showcase some ideas for you.

We stopped dining out for fancy meals after my husband lost his job and we found ourselves lacking the income to indulge in such a luxury. After the birth of our children, we knew that paying for a sitter and a dinner out were both far out of our budget reach.

As I became more acquainted with the kitchen though, we soon realized that dinners out just lacked that pizzazz that we could easily get from home. The food was a bit better, (if the house was relatively tidy) the atmosphere was better, and we could spend a whole heck of a lot less and get a whole heck of a lot more.

It is funny, now even when we have help to watch our kids, we still gravitate towards eating at home. I remember having a gift card for a fancy restaurant in town and we ended up spending $75 on dinner.

I looked across the table at my husband and he said,

“It was good, but…I like your tilapia better.”

Yeah, the tilapia that I buy for $4.99 a bag and prepare at home tasted better than the $25 of one fillet of tilapia plated in front of my hubby… sickening, isn’t it?

Dining at home doesn’t have to feel like a chore. First begin with the scenery. Can you relocate to a different location in your home? An elegant picnic on the floor? A folding table elegantly set with your finest table linens?  What about that dining table that only gets used for special occasion? How about dusting off that wedding china that seldom gets used? When you use and eat in spots in your home that are seldom visited, it can feel a lot like dining out. 

Don’t make it the same old dinner that you usually do, but make it a delicious experience that you can treasure. I think having great ingredients and new recipes to indulge in makes cooking feel like fun instead of the same old dinner routine that I have to perform.

Walmart challenged me this month to spend $35 and showcase some ideas that you could incorporate in your own feast. I wanted to show a mix of homemade and store-bought ideas that any couple could try. This is a feast prepared with your budget and time constraints in mind.

My store-bought choices included fresh strawberries, an angel food cake, a bag of frozen edamame sprinkled with kosher salt, chicken & vegetable dumplings from the P.F. Chang’s frozen food line, and bottles of fine wine priced at $10.

Even these homemade Peanut-Ginger Chicken Noodles were an easy creation thanks to those rotisserie chickens in the Deli department. The best part is that you can find those for under $5 in the coolers in the deli. I love that these are already chilled so that I can make fast work shredding my chicken for my favorite dishes.

I am sharing our delicious menu that was absolute perfection for us that I hope will inspire a deliciously wonderful date night with your significant other. I was able to purchase all of this food plus two bottles of wine priced at $10 each for a mere $35. If you skip the wine, this meal can be created with about $15 in food supplies. If you dine out, that is about the cost of two glasses of wine or one dinner (with no appetizers or drinks). Did I mention my meal offers leftovers for an entire week? You don’t even have to to tip the waitress (unless you want to give her a smooch).

I think the savings speaks for itself! 


5.0 from 1 reviews
Peanut-Ginger Chicken Noodles
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These Peanut-Ginger Noodles can be found in the new Picky Palate Cookbook by Jenny Flake. The best part about these is that they can be served warm or cold, making them the perfect choice for a nervous chef who might be worried about timing everything perfectly in the kitchen. Full of peanut and ginger flavor with a crunch from red bell peppers and sesame seeds, these are a treat you can enjoy all week long.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger (I bought the kind prepared in the tubes in the herbal section)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup hot pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, drain, and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Be sure to reserve one cup of pasta water for your sauce before draining.
  2. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and vinegar to a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Slowly add the hot water and blend until smooth.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes.
  5. Add the chicken, cilantro, salt, pepper, cooked spaghetti and peanut sauce and stir to combine.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or chilled, topped with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

Source: Picky Palate Cookbook

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Red Velvet Cake Batter Ice Cream With DIY Conversation Heart Toppers

Monday, January 21st, 2013

If there is anything better than a beautiful homemade red velvet cake, than it is that same red velvet cake flavor turned red velvet cake ice cream. Red velvet cake batter ice cream is an easy treat to whip up and is a fun one to enjoy for Valentine’s Day.

If you haven’t tried my cake batter ice cream before, this is a recipe worthy of a repeat with all new flavorings. This ice cream recipe is, by far, my favorite recipe for ice cream. There is no cooking of ingredients required, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand in my refrigerator, and the cake mix can be your own favorite variety or a cake mix that you need to use up in your cupboard. It is so rich and creamy and tastes just like your favorite ice cream shop, without the hefty price tag!

To make this ice cream more festive, we topped it with the new Brach’s Create Your Own Conversation Hearts. If you haven’t seen these, they are absolutely adorable and a fun way for kids to practice their writing. Have you children write their favorite messages on their hearts with a food-safe pen or draw tiny Valentine’s Day pictures to decorate them. They would make a fun addition, not only to a fun ice cream treat, but would be a sweet personalized addition to your valentines for your child’s classmates. These little hearts are sold exclusively at Walmart!

Since I couldn’t partake in the red velvet cake batter ice cream goodness this year, I spent some time browsing the grocery aisles to see if I could find any dairy-free options for a birthday treat at the store. Lucky for me, Walmart does offer several varieties of Häagen Dazs sorbets (I tried the raspberry & melon) as well as So Delicious Dairy-Free Creamy Vanilla. They were all so delicious! With sweet treats like this, I didn’t even miss the ice cream this year for my birthday. I’m looking forward to making sorbets and dairy-free ice cream alternatives in my kitchen this year!

In the meantime, enjoy this easy and delicious Red Velvet Cake Batter Ice Cream for a sweet treat with your favorite little valentines!

Red Velvet Cake Batter Ice Cream With DIY Conversation Heart Toppers
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
A rich and decadent ice cream treat perfect to share with your favorite little valentines!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup skim milk, well chilled
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup red velvet cake mix
Instructions
  1. Place freezer bowl of ice cream maker into the freezer. Chill the freezer bowl for a minimum of 24 hours.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
  4. Whisk in cake mix, making sure there are no lumps.
  5. Pour mixture into the freezer bowl and let mix until it has thickened (about 25-30 minutes). Remove ice cream from freezer bowl and place into a separate freezer-safe container.
  6. Place freezer bowl and the ice cream into the freezer to further harden (at least three hours).
  7. Serve with your favorite sundae toppings.

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

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Dairy-Free Crustless Quiche

Monday, January 7th, 2013

One of the hardest things I did this year was to start eating a dairy-free diet. This dairy-free crustless quiche recipe got me through many cheesy-filled get holiday togethers and was created just for myself for Christmas morning this year. You won’t believe how decadent this dairy-free crustless quiche tastes and, I highly doubt, you will even miss the milk or cheese.

Dairy-free doesn’t mean egg-free for me, but it did mean giving up the cheese and milk in my life. I made an easy transition into drinking almond milk (remember those infamous milk allergy mugs), but other transitions were a little more challenging. Our weekly pizza night now has a special alternative-cheese section for me, tacos and enchiladas also have an alternative-cheese section, creamy & decadent main dishes have been abandoned for now,  and I have had to learn some new ways of snacking. Although it has been challenging, the rewards have been so worth it for my stomach.

Although a round of allergy testing proved, I am not allergic to milk, my body’s response to it is to attack itself for three days straight if I have any dairy. As I get older, I want to deal with that less and less. Who has time to be sick for three days?  Luckily for me, there are many great dairy-free options at the supermarket and natural food stores to keep me full and happy.

What I love about this quiche is that it offers the perfect balance of layers of delicious veggies with an egg mixture mixed with a little spice and the mild flavor of rice milk.

Although many times you need to go to natural food stores to stock up on dairy-free alternatives, this dish can be created with supplies bought at your local Walmart stores. The rice milk is available with a couple of other milk alternative options over by the coffee/tea section of our store. I am becoming a fan of rice milk for cooking and I think you will too!

Don’t feel limited to the vegetable options I am sharing though, the beauty of a quiche is that it can be created from whatever you might need to use up in your vegetable drawer of your refrigerator!

Dairy-Free Crustless Quiche
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A dairy-free crustless quiche that is healthy, packed with veggies, and loaded with flavor.
Ingredients
  • Dairy-Free Crustless Quiche
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped if desired
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms
  • 1 pint cherry mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup plain rice milk
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sweet paprika
  • ⅛ tsp. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and heat for one minute.
  3. Toss in chopped bell peppers and mushrooms and cook for five minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder, rice or almond milk, salt, paprika, and black pepper.
  6. Stir in the sauteed vegetables and fresh spinach, and stir until well combined.
  7. Pour mixture into a greased pie pan.
  8. Place the sliced cherry tomatoes on top, cut side down.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow the quiche to set up for at least five minutes.
  11. Cut and then serve immediately.

What healthy eating plans do you have for the New Year? Any advice for someone who is trying to go dairy-free with their diet? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity this month as well! 

One more thing, did you know today just so happens to be GIVING TUESDAY? It is the perfect day to start a giving project with your family! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

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 aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How to Make Chalkboard Pumpkins

Monday, October 15th, 2012

If there is one thing you know I love around here it is chalkboard paint. Chalkboard painted pumpkins are a fun way to avoid the pumpkin carving and allow your kids to unleash their inner Picasso. Chalkboard pumpkins are easier to make than you might think and today I wanted to show you how to transform ordinary pumpkins into Chalkboard Pumpkin People that lets your kids be creative while creating a unique accessory to your front step!

Let’s get started with creating your very own Chalkboard Pumpkin People.

Supplies Needed (all found at Walmart):

1 real pumpkin

1 can of chalkboard paint (over in the hardware department)

Masking or electrical tape (this is optional, I ended up not covering my stem)

Wet wipe

White Chalk

1 Skeleton or Witch Body (these are found in the Halloween supplies by the pumpkin carving tools, $7.97 each)

How to Create Your Chalkboard Pumpkin

1. Wipe down your pumpkin well with a wet wipe or damp paper towel to remove any dirt or debris.

2. Hold your can 10-14 inches away from your surface and spray in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap around your entire pumpkin. Follow this pattern horizontally and then vertically. Wait fifteen minutes or so and then apply another coat. You need two coats to create your chalkboard surface.

3. Allow your pumpkin to cure. Do not use any chalk on this for 24 hours! The chalkboard paint will need to harden and will not be ready until then. If you try it before it is ready, it will just scratch the paint through, creating marks and exposing the orange on your pumpkin.
Let your little artists go to work with their chalk. Before giving it to them, make sure to rub down the corners so that they don’t scratch their pumpkin’s surface. I also reminded them to draw gently on these so their paint would remain intact.

Mistakes made? No problem! These can easily be erased and started over again. We had many false starts before deciding on our perfect faces.

Here are our finished faces that the kids drew (the witch’s creator might have had a little help from her Dad). We really loved these cute little faces and couldn’t wait to put them on the pumpkin bodies.

The best part about these though is that you can erase these and use them over and over again through the Thanksgiving holiday with written notes of thankfulness or a countdown to the holidays.

Of course, if you are more of the carving pumpkin type, Walmart has you covered with loads of great carving tools this year!

 

Don’t know what to do with the rest of that can of chalkboard paint? How about a DIY Lunchbox Creation Station, Chalkboard Food Label Frames, or Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars…just to name a few!

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How to Make a Duct Tape Pumpkin

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Carving pumpkins isn’t for everyone and I am so excited to share with you this easy craft for a duct tape pumpkin that you can pull out year after year. You may have never even noticed the patterned duct tape lurking in the craft aisles, but this is one easy & inexpensive craft material with endless possibilities for a customized duct tape pumpkin that can match any room in your home.

Supplies Needed:

1 craft pumpkin

1 roll of patterned duct tape (Duck Brand)- available in the craft section of Walmart

1 roll of solid colored duct tape (Duck Brand)- available in the craft section of Walmart

Hot glue gun & glue sticks

Scissors

To create your chevron pumpkin base:

1. Twist off the pumpkin stem to create an even surface on top for covering your pumpkin with tape.

2. Pull a strip of duct tape off the roll that will cover the entire pumpkin. Attach it to the pumpkin, doing your best to try not to wrinkle it.

3. Continue covering the pumpkin until it is fully covered with the duct tape, doing the best you can to line up the patterns. If you have wrinkles, overlap the duct tape to cover any minor flaws.

4. Place a dab of hot glue on the top and reattach your pumpkin stem, holding it  in place for a couple of minutes to secure it.

To create duct tape rosettes for the top of your pumpkin, you will need to do the following:

1. Measure a 10″ strip of your solid-colored duct tape and cut it off the spool.

2. Fold the duct tape in half (sticky sides in), doing your best to line the tape up evenly. If you don’t get the tape perfectly even, just trim the edge until you don’t see the white anymore.

3. Twist the tape to create a tight center to the rosette.

4. Begin twisting your tape as tightly or as loosely as you would like to create your rosette. Add a dab of hot glue periodically between the twists to secure it all together.

5. Once you have finished your rosette, add a dab of hot glue to the bottom and secure it to the top to create a rosette “leaf.”

6. Repeat this process again and create one more rosette. Secure the second rosette next to or slightly overlapping the first rosette to add your second rosette “leaf.”

Create your own pumpkin with your family and you could win $1,000 in the Stick or Treat Duck Brand Jack O’ Lantern Contest. The company offers over 100 colors, prints and licensed prints such as Hello Kitty and each roll of tape retails for $3.37 at Walmart stores!

Looking for more pumpkin crafts? Be sure to check out my tutorial for my Painted Address Pumpkin Topiary and Decoupaged Pumpkins that you can do with more of these fun faux pumpkins!

 

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

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Easy Cupcake Photo Picks

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Halloween is drawing near and along with all of the costume fun comes many opportunities to share treats at school and fun parties. Today I wanted to show you a fun and easy way to dress up a cupcake with your very own personalized photo pick. This craft could not be easier or more cute for dressing up a homemade cupcake or a store-bought one (Shhh…I’ll never tell!)

Begin by going through your Halloween pictures and selecting a favorite one of your children. You could also get a jumpstart on Halloween pictures and have your children dress up in costume and take a picture in their new costume. If your children are anything like mine, they will be more than happy to oblige and get the opportunity to wear their costumes just one more time.

This is a favorite picture of mine from last year of my two goblins.  We decided to stage a Ninja attack on our little princess for some hilarious photos opportunities for Halloween.  This picture still makes me laugh!

Head on over to the Walmart photo site and upload your favorite Halloween photo to your photo account (you can create a new one if you don’t have one). Next just click here to create your own photo sticker sheet. Select CUSTOMIZE, select your album & then your picture, click the MORE tab, and then click MORE STYLES. Under that you will see all of the cute Halloween backgrounds to customize your photo sticker. You can leave them plain or you can add a cute font and message with your sticker.

Once you have created your sticker, you can have them shipped directly to you or pick them up at your store in 2-3 business days.

To create a cupcake photo pick, you will just need your sheet of photo stickers and a package of popsicle sticks (available in the craft supplies at Walmart)

  1. Grab one popsicle stick.
  2. Peel one sticker from your sticker sheet and stick it to your popsicle stick, carefully centering it.
  3. Peel another sticker off your sticker sheet and stick it to the flipside of your popsicle stick, lining the sticker up carefully with the other sticker.
  4. Stick your photo pick into the top of your cupcake.

Aren’t these so cute? I love that this is a craft that anyone can do and that can add a very special and personal touch to your Halloween treats this year.

Happy Halloween, friends!

 

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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