Archive | June 2012

Saturday Project: 4th of July Crafts

This weekend, in preparation for the 4th of July we will be tackling a variety of projects for decorating and to keep the kiddos busy. Because my birthday and our anniversary fall between Saturday and the 4th, this time of year is always a busy time, filled with friends and celebrations. We are also adding a small group fellowship day this weekend, complete with a cookout and swimming, we will be doing some craft projects with all the kids there. I can’t wait to have everyone painting fireworks with pipe cleaners!

So if you haven’t done so already, check out all the great links to 4th of July Food and Crafts from the post earlier this week and share your creations with us all in the comments!

Week of July 2nd Menus

Here is the grocery list for this week’s menus: 7/2 Grocery List

Breakfast Menu: Dinner Menu:
M: Eggs & Toast M: Chicken Caesar Wraps From Cook’s Country Magazine; We substitute creamy Caesar dressing for the mayo & dressing recipe here.
T: Pear Muffins T: Pizza, veggie sticks
W: French Toast W: Hot dogs/sausages, salad
Th: Chocolate Chip Muffins Th: Nebraska Beef Buns, corn

From Cook’s Country Magazine

F: Blueberry Muffins F: Bacon Mac & Cheese, green beans
S: Chocolate Danish – Filling:Whip 1 pkg. cream cheese with 1 cup sugar. Fold in chocolate chips.Use puff pastry dough cut into squares. fill with 1-2 tbs of chocolate filling. Fold corners together. Bake at 350*F until light golden brown. S: Tacos
S: Omelets w/ hashbrowns S:: Panini

A Collection of 4th of July Crafts and Food

We love crafts. We also love the 4th of July (it helps that my birthday and our anniversary fall right around this holiday). So here is a collection of sites with some great 4th of July crafts:

AliLilly – especially great for younger kids

AllRecipes – Red, white & blue strawberries

Delish – 4th of July food ideas

Dollar Store Crafts – inexpensive crafts and foods

Enchanted Learning – games, crafts, and worksheets

Family Fun – lots of craft, food, and game ideas

It’s A Blog Party – crafts, food, and decor ideas

My Blessed Life – crafts for older kids and adults; home decor

Kitchen Organization Quick Tip: Put a Lid on It

Lids can get everywhere and get lost easily (especially things like sippy cup lids). Solution? Store lids directly with their container, on it if possible. We keep all our plasticware lids inside a large plastic tub. We keep our CorningWare lids in or on the dishes. We keep sippy cup valves in the cup with the lid on it. Storing the lid with its correct container will save you time and hassle trying to match them up when you need them.

Kitchen Organization Quick Tip: Keep it Handy

My home will never look like a show home. It is always neat and tidy, but I cannot keep the counters clear. This is because I believe that things I use regularly need to be handy. Cooking and baking supplies that I use everyday are either out on the counter (who wants to lug a KitchenAid mixer in and out of the cupboards 4 or 5 times a week?) or in a cabinet near where I use them. The spices and cooking oils are in the cabinet next to the stove. The cooking utensils are in crocks (and one cool tin can) on the counter next to the stove. Dry erase markers for our family calendar are in a tin can (I love re-using tin cans) on the counter next to where the calendar hangs. Keeping things stored neatly where you use them will make your kitchen run much more smoothly. And using creative storage solutions like a lazy susan or decorative tin cans keep counters tidy, while still keeping your daily use items easily accessible.

Kitchen Organization Quick-Tip: Sort by Use

A quick tip for kitchen organization: Sort your kitchen by how you use things. Don’t get trapped into the idea that specific cabinets must contain specific items. Sort things in your kitchen and pantry based on how you use them and what you use together.

For example, I have one drawer that contains attachments for my mixer, silicone cupcake liners, frosting tips and bags, pastry blender, and all my measuring cups and spoons. This is my baking drawer. Conventional wisdom may say these things should be put away differently (utensils together, appliance attachments with other appliances etc.) but this works well for my kitchen. Because I bake 4-6 times a week (especially for breaksfasts), having all the needed baking supplies right in one spot is super handy. Plus that drawer is under the counter where my mixer sits and where I can roll dough. So everything I need is all in one spot and I don’t have to walk around the kitchen to grab anything.

Another example is our kid cabinet. We keep all kid dishes, cups, water bottles, and other plasticware together in one lower cabinet. This way the kids can easily get to their dishes for snacks and drinks (and the plasticware when it is their turn to clear the table). No sense in keeping the kid plates in the upper cabinet with other dishes. The people who need to use them can’t get to them.

Saturday Project: Tee Shirt Skirt and Headband

Do you have old or hand-me-down tee-shirts around your house? Jackie, contributing writer at The Happy Housewife, gives great instructions for turning them into skirts (great for casual or play times) and headbands. Check out this tee-shirt skirt tutorial from The Happy Housewife!

I have been wanting to try a tee-shirt skirt for a while and I can’t wait to get to this project for my girls!

Week of 6/25 Menus

Here is the grocery list for this week’s menus: 625 Grocery List

Breakfast Menu: Dinner Menu:
M: Egg bake M: Bacon Mac & Cheese , green beans
Add crumbled bacon & breadcrumbs to top.
T: Chocolate Zucchini Bread T: Mini meatloafs (made in muffin tins) & potatoes
W: Whole Wheat Pancakes W: Creamy chicken pasta, salad
Th: Eggs Th: Pizza
F: Lemon Poppy Muffins F: Lasagna
S: Chocolate Chip Pancakes S: Stir Fry
S: Omelets S: Panini

Hospitality through Food & Drink

While it is important to plan food and drinks for parties and organized gatherings, today I want to remind us of the importance of having food around to share hospitality with on spur of the moment occasions. This may be to take a meal to someone who has lost a job or a loved one or to have all the neighborhood kids play at your house so that you can keep an eye on what your own kids are up to. It is important to have some standard hospitality items around.

First of all, I alway keep the items needed to put together a quick freezer meal for someone in need. Around our house this usually means pasta, sauce, and broccoli (because these all freeze well). We also always have hot dogs, buns, and veggie sticks around. These are inexpensive items, but having them on hand will allow you to jump in and feed someone going through a difficult time or just because of a last-minute get together. You can have them over to eat at your home or take a meal to them. Either way, you are offering them hospitality. You would be surprised how much a meal can mean to someone. When we lost a child through miscarriage we had friends feed us for several nights. This helped more than all the words and calls. I just didn’t have to worry about what to have for dinner.

Secondly, I keep snacks on hand for impromptu get-togethers. We limit the amounts of processed foods on hand but we keep things like bulk yogurt (which can be frozen into coin-sized treats or served in bowls), applesauce, carrot sticks, graham crackers, and peanut butter. Almost any kid will snack on these foods. We also keep Kool-Aid and water cold for the same reasons. (Be sure to check with parents about allergies.)

Third, I keep paper plates, cups, plasticware, and Take-and-Toss sippy or straw cups stocked in the house at all times. These items are again inexpensive, but if we end up hosting people last-minute they come in very handy. We have a bin in the pantry (a dish washing bin that was under $2 at our local “Mart) with all these disposable products in them.  This way when we have the chance for last-minute hospitality, all we have to do is set out the bin and all the needed items are ready to go!

Never underestimate the positive influence you can be on a child or a family simply by sharing the gift of hospitality through food and drink!

Hospitality vs. Entertaining

We often hear these two words used interchangeably but hospitality and entertaining are two different things. Hospitality is opening you home to family, friends, and strangers, even with little or no notice with a focus on the comfort and enjoyment of your guest. Entertaining is setting up a perfect tablescape and meal with much planning and preparation, with a focus on you as the host.

The key to creating a hospitable environment is to keep your focus on your guests, making them comfortable. A perfectly clean and organized home may look nice, but often something “too perfect” will cause guests to feel ill-at-ease and out of place because they fear messing up all your hard work. Studies show that people are most comfortable in an environment that feels lived-in and makes them feel like family. So how to you achieve this?

First of all, quit waiting for your house to be perfect to have people over. You will always find one more project that needs to be done. Don’t wait for that never ending list to be finished before you decide to invite people into your home. I have never had anyone refuse to hang out at my house because we were painting or building a deck or whatever project we happened to be in the middle of doing! Spend your time focusing on how you can make your space into something people will describe as comfortable, homey, relaxed, welcoming, and inviting.

Second, spend time (and maybe even a little money) decorating your space in a way that welcomes guests. We make sure to have a lot of seating available, especially chairs and stools that can be moved around to allow the space flexibility depending on the group we are hosting. Chose furniture and accent pieces that have a story behind them. People love to hear about how we bartered with a street vendor in China to get our porcelain vases or how we bought our antique Hoosier cabinet on eBay – sight unseen! Mix and match piece and incorporate old and new. This will help create a comfortable environment.

Third, feed them! Food has a way of welcoming and comforting people so use it. But don’t spend hours preparing elaborate dinner parties when you know your crowd is more pizza or subs. Tomorrow we will look more at foods to promote hospitality.