Archive for April, 2011

Amy’s Notebook 04.27.11

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Using leftover chocolate bunnies for your cookie dough is genius! (@ Salsa Pie)

These braided headbands would be a cute way to pull my hair back this summer (@ Alisa Burke)

I love this idea on saving the plastic eggs and using them to paint with (@ ohdeedoh)

These recipes for beer bread four ways look like a delicious addition to my summer baking (@ Bake at 350)

This lined wicker basket is a perfect addition to a bike (@ Ruffled Sunshine)

This whole wheat chocolate chip skillet cookie looks heavenly! (@ rather be baking)

I need to give these kale chips a try with my kids (@ Dine & Dish)

This handmade bookmarks would be a wonderful teacher appreciation gift (@ Skip to My Lou)

These DIY power bars would be nice to keep on hand for a healthy snack (@ the kitchn)

These orange poppy scones would be a delicious addition to my morning coffee (@ shutterbean)

Nothing says happiness like a bowl full of homemade chicken pot pie (@ joy the baker)

I adore these plastic eggs turned into fancy teacups (@ Creativity in Progress)

I love this suitcase transformed into a picnic basket (@ design sponge)

This is a great round-up of fun teacher appreciation gift ideas (@ eighteen25)

This wreath made from paper bags and book pages is stunning (@ bumpsmitten)

I am going to have to remember these homemade Cadbury Eggs for next year (@ Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

This paper bag bunting would be a fun & frugal addition to a birthday party (@ Blue Cricket Design)

This rosemary citrus garlic slow cooker chicken looks like a delicious & easy weeknight supper (@ A Southern Fairytale)

Great Reads for Moms: April ’11 Edition

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

April brought in another round of fabulous reading and I got to tackle some great books by some new-to-me authors as well as a book that I have had in my book stack for years waiting for just the right moment to read it. I have added a little blurb at the end of each book review that will let you know if there are books similar to it that I have enjoyed. I love to find a new book to read, but I really love it when I find something and then someone lets me know something that I might like that has the same feel to it. Each link should take you to the review for the similar books, to help when making your book selections.  I hope it helps you when creating your library lists!

I am not the only Clark doing some reading this year. If you are looking for some fun reading material for your husband, my hubby has been happily plugging away at the new, “River Monsters: True Stories of the Ones That Didn’t Get Away,” by Jeremy Wade and he absolutely loved, “The Disappearing Spoon,” by Sam Klean. Each time I go to the library, I try to pick up a reading gem for my husband and those have been two of his favorites.

If you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more  books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! My username is momadvice and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Happy reading, everyone!

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

In anticipation of the movie release, I decided to finally dig into Water for Elephants this month.  I actually have no idea why I waited this long to read it, but I think I really just wanted to savor this book and read it right before the movie was released so I would be able to remember all of the characters.  This book did not disappoint and was one of the best books that I have read this year!

The book opens with Jacob Janowski who is ninety (or ninety-three, a fact he can’t remember) and now living in a nursing home.  His days are now spent being shuffled from his room to the dining area, suffering from the everyday minutiae of life in a nursing home. Of course, his life wasn’t always like this, in fact, Jacob’s life was spent with a traveling circus after the untimely death of his parents. Circus life was a hard life for Jacob and one that he jumped to unknowingly when he boarded a train to escape after his parent’s death.

Gruen’s writing is as vivid as a movie screen as the reader is swept away into the hard and difficult life of being a part of the traveling circus during the Great Depression. When Jacob is appointed to veterinarian, he has a difficult role under August, a paranoid schizophrenic, who acts as the animal trainer of the circus. The reader is swept into the sad life of the animals and the repeated abuse that August inflicts on the animals.

The only sparkle of light in Jacob’s life is Marlena, a beautiful performer in the circus, who Jacob cannot stop thinking about. Sadly, it is August’s wife that he has fallen in love with, and the reader will sit on the edge of their seat as Jacob risks it all to free Marlena from the abusive life that she has been leading with August.

More than a love story, it is an unbelievably well-researched look into the life of the circus at this time, and a love story of how Jacob & Marlena fall in love with an elephant named Rosie who makes a reader’s heart melt in her beauty. Equally impressive is how Gruen is able to capture the life of the elderly as Jacob reminisces and longs for his youth. The ending is perhaps a little too neatly woven, but is a satisfying conclusion to it all as a reader!

Vivid, descriptive, cinematic, raw, chilling… I felt as though I was on a roller coaster just reading this one! Definitely give this one a read before hitting the movie theater! Let’s hope the movie is half as good as this book!

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Let the Great World Spin, or Those Who Save Us.

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

High-school sweethearts Julie & Michael have left behind their small town and are in pursuit of living a life better than their modest upbringings and achieving the American dream. When Michael decides to start a sports drink company, neither of them could ever expect how quickly his business would takeoff or what it would be like to be millionaires. As money is introduced into their life, their marriage begins to crumble as Michael is increasingly unavailable due to the success of his company and the separation that exists as a couple begins to grow apart.

The book opens as Michael has a near-death experience and Julie, a successful party planner, is called to the hospital to be with her husband.  Michael begins acting strangely and tells Julia that he has made the decision to give all of his money and company away.  Julie is stunned, as she has begun the process of filing for a divorce from her husband, and will lose half of the estate and money if he gives everything away. Michael pleads for Julie to give him just one chance.

This book then delves into the complex relationship that they share and how their marriage began to fail as they began to rediscover one another again once their fortune is taken out of the equation.

I went into it expecting a simple piece of chick lit, and it developed into one beautiful story! Perhaps it is not life-altering, but sometimes a girl just needs a good love story that renews her feelings about love and what is important in life.  It offered everything I love in a book:  great characters, a beautiful love story, a fabulous friendship between two women, and great humor interjected throughout the story. It really was so much more than I could have hoped for!

(MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: Something Borrowed, Time of My Life, or Last Night at Chateau Marmont.

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

How lucky am I that I have a friend that works at Barnes & Noble who can help recommend books to me? My girlfriend, Tara, recommended this book to me because she knew that it would be a book right up my alley and she is so great to let me know when she reads something I would love.

On a hot day in August in 1954, Jubie leaves her town of Charlotte, North Carolina to head to Florida on a vacation with her mother, three siblings, and their African American maid named Mary.  For all of Jubie’s life, Mary has been essential to their family and their household. Mary has been there when her alcoholic father and neglectful mother have not been and Jubie knows that Mary will always be around to love and care for her.

As the family heads further south on their trip to Florida, they see many signs of intolerance and signs of anti-integration along the way. Jubie’s  mother finds it difficult to even find a place for Mary to go to the restroom, or eat, or sleep for the night, while Jubie wonders if Mary is sensing the hatred and shift towards intolerance as all signs begin to point towards racism. In a twist that no one could have anticipated a tragic string of events turn their lives upside down and Jubie is forced to fully realize the shortcomings of her parents, their marriage, and the essential role that Mary played in her life.

This is a surprisingly moving and beautifully narrated story as a debut novel from by Mayhew, but was is even more surprising is that this first novel came at the age of seventy-one. I can only hope that there will be many more novels in the future from her as this book is a truly amazing first piece of work that, Mayhew says,  was eighteen years in the making.

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: The Help, The Kitchen House,  & Mudbound (see review below)

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound is storytelling at its very best and offers a beautifully rendered portrayal of race and politics in the South during the forties. This book is told from alternating points of view and shares the story of a Memphis-bred Laura McAllan who is struggling to adjust to being a farmer’s wife and living the idyllic dream that her husband Henry has for them to live off their own land. When Henry makes an error by trusting a handshake rather than a contract on the home they are renting, they find themselves living in less than ideal conditions in a shack that Henry had hoped to turn into his dream house. Laura not only must deal with the difficulties of living in this shack, but she has to do it with her racist father-in-law constantly judging and spewing hate at her.

As Laura struggles with this, the real story unfolds when Henry’s brother Jamie returns home from the war. Always the favored one, Jamie comes home as a raging alcoholic, struggling with nightmares and post-traumatic stress from the war he left. Ronsel, a son of the sharecroppers who have been hired to work on Henry & Laura’s land, also struggles with leaving the war after being a hero in fighting for his country, he is now seen as just a black boy and treated with only racism and hatred.

When a horrible crime is comitted,  the four lives of these main characters are woven into one and the reader is taken along on the journey every harrowing step of the way. Twist after twist creates a plot that illustrates racism in a very unique way.

This book is a fast-paced read, that will shock and grip you until the final pages. Not for the faint of heart- a great debut novel from Hillary Jordan worthy of the 2006 Bellwether Prize that she won for this. I look forward to reading more from this author!

(MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: The HelpThe Kitchen House, & The Dry Grass of August (see review above).

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

If you have a sister, are a book lover, or have a love for Shakespeare, you will find, “The Weird Sisters,” is a fun and enjoyable read. Sisters Rose (Rosalind; As You Like It), Bean (Bianca; The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia; King Lear) are the product of a Shakespearean professor who speaks primarily in…you guessed it, Shakespearean verse.

Rose has been caring for their mother as she undergoes treatment for cancer and often plays the martyr since she has been burdened with the responsibility of her care. Under the guise of aiding their mother, both Cordy & Bean make their way home at the same time burdened with their own secrets, and the sisters find themselves together once again. As the children all return home, the sisters find they each are slipping into their old childhood antics and roles, while each trying to figure who they are as adults. Dealing with issues of pregnancy, embezzlement, cancer, and finding love, the book takes you on a journey as each sister strives  to solve their own dilemma, ultimately, finding that they really aren’t so different from one another.

While certainly quirky and charming, the book fell a little short for me because the sisters do seem to behave rather selfishly while their mother is ill. The Shakespearean quotes also worked at times, while others it seemed forced rather than a natural entry into the plot. Regardless, it was a quick and enjoyable reading about returning home and the bonds of sisterhood.

(MomAdvice Rating- 3 Stars out of 5 Stars)

If you liked this book you might like: The Good Daughters, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, & The Wednesday Sisters.


Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

What has been in your book stack this month? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 04.26.11

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Gaijin Geisha, $40

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Applebee’s Honey Grilled Salmon

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Salmon is a fish that our entire family can agree upon as being delicious, but I will admit that the small frozen fillets can be tricky to cook. I have a hard time achieving a delicious piece of fish without overcooking it or drying the meat out. Despite those cooking challenges,  I am always trying new things with our fish dishes and I think I have finally found a winner with this delicious salmon with a honey pepper sauce. The fish is moist and flavorful and the sauce has the sweet and hot flavors in it that making a boring piece of fish taste rich and flavorful. The bonus is that the glaze is created from ingredients I always have in my fridge and pantry, but mixed together, it creates something that is just out of this world in flavor.

Not a single bit of this fish was left on a single plate. In fact, the kids asked for more when they are done. This may turn into a more expensive dinner than I had anticipated since I will have to buy two pieces for each family member. I can’t rave about this enough- it really was that delicious! It is an Applebee’s knockoff, but just like the Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders, I don’t eat there so I have no idea if it tastes like an Applebee’s dish or not. I do know, it is restaurant-worthy and tastes just like something I would love to order at a restaurant. I am guessing that is all that matters!

In a pot, just whisk together all of the ingredients until they are incorporated. Put the pot on the stove and then bring it to a boil.

Once you have brought your pot to a boil, turn the heat down and allow the sauce to simmer for fifteen minutes or until it has thickened and looks syrupy.

On a baking sheet, drizzle your salmon portions with a little olive oil and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. You can bake these at 375 degrees for twelve minutes (this is what I did) or you can grill your salmon if you prefer. To grill, cook on preheated grill until fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily with a fork, about 3-4 minutes per side. Please note, the cooking time may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of your fillet. Once your salmon is cooked,  remove the salmon from the grill or pull from the oven, and brush each fillet with the honey pepper sauce. Serve the fish with small ramekins of additional sauce for extra dipping.

I recommend baked brown rice as an accompaniment (with the sauce drizzled on top) and our oven roasted asparagus or a pile of wilted greens as your side dishes to this amazing fish!

Applebees Honey Grilled Salmon (Courtesy of

3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 lemon, juice of (about 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I reduced this to 1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4 salmon fillets

Make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Stir occasionally until sauce begins to boil, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until syrupy. Watch the sauce closely to be sure it doesn’t bubble over. Preheat barbecue grill to medium heat. Rub each salmon filet with olive oil, then add a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Grill the salmon for 3-4 minutes per side or until done. Alternately, you  can bake these at 375 degrees for twelve minutes if you prefer not to grill them.   Once your salmon is cooked,  remove the salmon from the grill or pull from the oven, and brush each fillet with the honey pepper sauce. Serve the fish with small ramekins of additional sauce for extra dipping.

Looking for another fun way to enjoy salmon? Be sure to try our Balsamic & Rosemary Grilled Salmon, Slammin’ Salmon Marinade Baked Salmon with Lemony Rice Pilaf, or Salmon Patties with Perfectly Baked Potatoes.

Creating a Fun Easter Basket for Less

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Editor’s Note: Many apologies that I didn’t get this up sooner for you all! Our web host had some issues this week which halted my progress on this project. I hope that this will still be beneficial to those last minute shoppers or reference for you all next year too! Happy Easter, everyone!

It is almost that time for the kids to dig into their Easter baskets again. Each year I try to do something a little different with our baskets and try to keep a theme in mind. One year it was a basket filled with fun stuff to do outside (bubbles, jump ropes, water toys, sidewalk chalk). Another year we did all arts and crafts supplies (construction paper, watercolors, pencils, markers). Last year was the year of board games (Connect 4, Trouble, Operation).

You see, I am not a big fan of buying a bunch of junk food for my kids to consume and with all of the Easter egg hunts and dinners, my kids still manage to consume a ridiculous amount of sugar without a basket from the bunny at our house.  If you saw my children on sugar, you would understand why this is a mom survival tactic!  Instead I consider Easter baskets an opportunity to stock up on using their imagination and a tactic to survive the long rainy days ahead for spring.

This month I got the opportunity to create a basket out of supplies from Walmart. It is always fun to see what I can create and this year I did a glamorous basket for the diva princess in our house and I filled my son’s with a fun Bakugan toy & an Etch A Sketch to help him use his imagination.

Here are some ways that I have learned to make creative baskets for less:

Free Refills, Please- Every year I would buy a new basket to leave from the Easter Bunny. A few years ago, I wised up and now the kids leave a basket out for the bunny instead.  The kids really look forward to seeing what the Easter Bunny has put in their baskets and this helps to cut down on the expense of buying a basket every year.  If you do need to buy a basket, check the yard sales and thrift stores for baskets. With a bottle of spray paint in a pretty Easter color, you can freshen up dingy baskets and give them a new spring look.

Ditch the Fillers– Easter fillers can be quite a mess and also are an added expense to your basket. Instead of Easter grass, opt for shredded paper in a fun Easter color, a little pastel tissue paper to line the basket, or fabric in Easter shades that you might have in your craft supplies. Scrap ribbon tied to the top of your basket will add to the fun Easter theme without breaking the bank.

Wander Away from the Easter Aisle– While there is a great selection of great stuff in the Easter aisle, it also is a blast to wander down other aisles to look for fun additions to your Easter basket. My daughter’s princess glam basket was filled with fun dress-up gloves and a fun dress-up brush that were around $3 each. Sticker books in princess glitter and glam were also a fun filler for around the same price. Visit the health & beauty aisles for fun bath soaps, visit the gardening section for fun accessories to get your garden started,  and visit the snacks aisles for healthier alternatives to the Easter candy. By wandering away from the seasonal items, you can really find a lot of fun items to add to your baskets.

Stock Your Baskets With Imagination in Mind– As much as a new electronic game would be fun for the kids, I really try to stock up on things that will help them use their imagination rather than the television. Art supplies, new beach or sand box toys, a family outdoor game, and board games are all great ways to get them to use their imagination.

What are some ways that you save on your Easter baskets? What has been your favorite theme for an Easter basket for your child! 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.

Amy’s Notebook 04.20.11

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

My kids would love these adorable Peeps S’mores (@ Steamy Kitchen)

These cereal box postcards are a cute way to upcycle your cereal packaging (@ infarrantly creative)

These “thanks a latte,” cards would make a fantastic teacher gift (@ Skip to My Lou)

I am going to make some of these mason jar frappucinos for a fun pick-me-up (@ Tasty Kitchen)

This is a great round-up of kite & wind activities (@ Let’s Explore)

I love these vintage yo-yo’s attached to bobby pins (@ KOJO Designs)

This Anthro-inspired circle lamp is stunning! (@ design dump)

I adore these sweet little ice cream cupcakes (@ Living Locurto)

These fabric flowers are a beautiful addition to your outfit (@ Making This Home)

These devil’s food cupcakes look heavenly (@ kitchen wench)

These healthy baked chicken nuggets look like a delicious weeknight meal (@ Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

I love this list of homemade substitutes for grocery staples as a way to save on the grocery budget (@ simple bites)

Revealed: 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge Results

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Last month I decided to challenge myself to cut the clutter in our home over the course of thirty days. My house and my life has been feeling chaotic these days and I knew that a thirty day challenge is just what I needed to get back to the roots of the organization in my home. If you have been a long time reader, you may remember the results from my clutter challenge last year. I am finding by making this clutter challenge a yearly one that it helps bring me back to center again in my home.

The closet, pictured above, is representative of what my home has been looking like. The bones of organization are there, but they are hiding amidst the overflowing drawers, shelves, and cupboards of endless amounts of unnecessary items. I planned to get rid of four car loads of items from my home and challenged myself to a weekly stop at Goodwill.

Pictured here are my first three drops to Goodwill. I have another round of items leftover from our home renovation to take over to the ReStore that are currently sitting in my garage. Once our weather finally warms up, my husband & I have a Saturday date planned with our cluttered garage.  All in all, I removed FIFTEEN garbage bags and three totes of random uselessness from our home. In these bags you would find books that we will never read, toys that the children have outgrown, clothing that is too small, a bazillion plastic containers that I do not need, bedding & blankets that are never used, shoes, & items from household projects that have been abandoned.

Can I say,  I was not sad to see any of these items leave our home?

Maybe when you see some of the corners of my home now, you will know why!

There is still much more clutter to be conquered in our home, but these corners that I have worked on really have me reassured that having our home organized is an attainable goal. If I was going to offer any advice on tackling the clutter in  your home, I would say this:

Start Small…Really Small- When I would survey my house as a whole, I could immediately become defeated. There is so much to do and my to-do list on any given day is enormous. Adding on trying to organize my house to the list and it just did not even seem like a feasible goal. Instead, start with one small spot in your home that has been bothering you. It could be as small as the kid’s bath toys, a junk drawer that could give under its weight of uselessness, or simply a single shelf in your home office.  I found that once I began a junk drawer, for example, I would then start moving into the drawer below it, and then I would move to the next drawer. Most of the time it is just getting the momentum to climb that cluttered hill that holds us back from achieving a little organization that is the hardest part.

You Don’t Need Another Basket, But You Might Need Another Donation Bag- I remember when I first began organizing my home, I considered home organization to be about buying organizers, storage containers, and pretty baskets to house everything. All of a sudden my home was filled with a dozen baskets of items I didn’t need or never used. Instead of thinking of how to make the items you have more attractive, consider if you really need the items themselves. If you don’t really and truly love or use them, get rid of them!

Sentimentality & “This Was So Expensive” Has To Be Set Aside– Two things get in the way of me letting the items go in my home. The first is the sentimental feelings that I have about things in our house. Usually it is a gift, an item that was special to my children when they were small, or something that was special to me that I would like to push my children into also loving. The other thing that gets in the way is my, “This Was So Expensive,” feeling about items that we spent too much money on, but no longer have love for.  If I could get rid of these two feelings about things, I could almost gather another car load of items. Instead, I have dedicated one tote in our basement that is specifically for sentimental mementos and we are working on passing on the gadgets in our life that we don’t use on to others that can use them.

Your feelings about items might be different than mine and it may take some time to figure out what holds you back from letting things go in your life. When you feel an attachment to an item, try to address where that attachment is coming from and if there is a way that you can manage those attachments to achieve the space you desire.

Embrace Your Power to Live Small- The more I cut the clutter in my home, the more I find that I have just the amount of space that I need in my home. When my closets began to feel too small, when the cupboards are bursting at the seams, when the basement is overflowing…those are the times when I think how nice it would be to move to a bigger home. Each time I cut the clutter in those spaces, I rediscover how perfect our home is for us. Basically, I save myself from a heftier mortgage payment AND I find a renewed sense of commitment to stay right where we are.

Our story of giving things away didn’t end there though, in fact, this is a story about the coolest thing that I have ever gotten to give away.  My husband had his ’99 Ford Focus for almost eight years and it was very good to us over the years. For the last five years though, he had been price researching his dream car and dreaming of the day that he could own a Lexus.  At the end of this month, his dream car dropped below the price of my Subaru wagon and with some serious negotiating and a couple of hours in the hot seat at the dealership, he drove that car home.

We talked a lot about what we wanted to do with our Ford Focus. While we could have gotten a little money to trade it in, we knew we could make my brother’s whole year if we gave him our old car. That very day we bought our new car, his car began to leak gas and he had no idea how he was going to get around. Later that afternoon I called to tell him that we had a birthday present for him.

I felt a little like Oprah handing over those keys.

He told me he felt like he won the lottery.

We both couldn’t stop grinning.

I don’t say this to brag, but to showcase how wonderful it can be to pass on the things we have in our lives to others. No matter how much or how little you have, you can always give with your whole heart. Look for creative ways to give back to your community, pass the items on that you no longer use to someone in need, use your talents to bless someone else in your life, and live a life of great thankfulness for all that you have.

If you have taken the clutter challenge, feel free to link up below and share some of the spots in your home that have been transformed or what you plan to work on this month. I can’t wait to see your projects and hear what you have learned from this experience!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 04.19.11

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

kandykissesboutique, $25

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders

Monday, April 18th, 2011

My kids can’t seem to get enough of my Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders, but there are those busy weeknights when breading and baking chicken is just not in the cards. Luckily, a few months ago I stumbled upon this fun recipe for grilled chicken tenders that my kids love just as much, but can be created in a few minutes of easy preparation time. We have been eating these about once a week ever since we tried this recipe and it is a hit every single time.

This is a knock-off recipe of Cracker Barrel’s grilled chicken tenders. I will admit though that I have never actually tried Cracker Barrel’s grilled chicken anything. If I spend the money to go out to dinner there it is fully spent on chicken & dumplings, fried okra, biscuits, and everything else breaded and delicious. If these tenders taste anything like what they serve in the restaurant though, I know that they would be a fun alternative to plates of fried foods.

Made from ingredients that are likely already in your refrigerator and pantry right now, these simple ingredients are exceptionally delicious and create a flavorful & juicy chicken tender that you will absolutely love. This recipe yields a pound’s worth of tenders. I triple the batch for salad topping and grilled chicken wraps that make easy weekday lunches or a busy weeknight dinner. My problem is getting the family to stop eating them so we have some leftovers on hand. I hope you will enjoy these as much as we have!

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders (adapted from

1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
Mix dressing, lime juice and honey. Pour over chicken tenders. Marinate for 3-4 hours.  Cook tenders in a non stick pan or grill until golden in color, but not dry (approximately four minutes on each side depending on the size of your tenders). Base occasionally as you are grilling these to retain the moisture in the tenderloin.

Try this same technique with Yummy Honey Chicken, Zesty Chicken, or Rosemary Ranch Chicken for a quick weeknight dinner!

Amy’s Notebook 04.13.11

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I must make this knitting needle clock for my office! (@ Naughty Secretary Club)

I am going to have to make these Butterbeer Cupcakes to go along with our nightly Harry Potter readings (@ amy bites)

These roasted strawberries look like a fantastic topper to ice cream or yogurt (@ shutterbean)

Boston Creme Cupcakes sound like a fun new way to enjoy my favorite donut flavor (@ The Gourmand Mom)

This pinwheel garland would be a fun way to decorate for Spring (@ Peppermint Plum)

Red velvet crepes look like a fun treat to make (@ duhlicious)

Who knew you could make hard boiled eggs in your slow cooker? (@ the paupered chef)

I am madly in love with this camp-out birthday party theme (@ Hostess with the Mostess)

These homemade black bean burgers look like a delicious lunch (@ angry chicken)

This spaghetti frittata looks like a great way to use up leftover noodles (@ $5 Dinners)

These basic cinnamon rolls look like a fun breakfast treat (@ Food For My Family)

This secret message in an egg is so creative! (@ Poppytalk)

I want to try a batch of these cake cookies with sprinkles (@ V and Co.)

Nutella in coffee? That sounds like heaven! (@ brewed daily)

This salted caramel ice cream is my excuse to purchase an ice cream maker (@ brown eyed baker)

This week I made the cute knock-off Pottery Barn moss covered letter that was featured in our notebook (circa 03.16.11 entry) and on the blog, “Be Sweet.”  I absolutely love it and want to hit the craft store to get a larger letter to hang on our front door. This one is decorating a pantry door and I hung it in front of a broken frame I found in my basement on an angle. I plan to spray paint the frame black, but happened to be covering letters and marbleizing eggs at the same time. Who says this mama can’t multitask?

Proving that I can mess up just about any craft, I hot glued my finger to the “C” because the moss was a bit more aerated than I realized.  My husband says I am an “XXTREME HOT GLUE GUNNER.” He also makes an X in front of his face when he says this to me.  I blame the glue gun. Regardless, super cute project that cost $11 to create!

Have you tried anything from our featured notebook entries? We would love to hear what projects you tried and how they worked out for your family!