So... a compilation, huh? Yep. Let me introduce myself. My name is Kelley and I am the mother of two wonderful children, Maddie and Spencer. We also have three crazy, but loveable dogs- Roxy, Norman and Penney. My husband, Allan is a fantastic, hardworking entrepreneur who makes sure we are all well taken care of.
Because we're always crazy busy, I'm always looking for things to make my life easier. That's where the compilation comes in. I scour the internet (especially Pinterest) and find things to not only entertain my kids, but also cut down on my cleaning time, my cooking time and last but not least, (if it ever happens), my work out time. Basically anything to make my life easier and more fun.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Customizable Chore Chart

I don't know what it is about summer that makes kids go crazy, but mine, even though they're homeschooled have gone absolutely berserk!  This is especially true in the chore department.  So, I came up with a fun little chore chart for them.  I decided not to make it too long and instead used it to focus on the chores that make the biggest impact on our house.  These particular chores don't take a long time but sure do make the house a ton cleaner!  Of course, you can edit the chart to suit your own household!

(By the way... I HATE to waste paper, so I laminated these and use a dry erase marker to mark when a chore has been done.)


Download it through this link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/geztt3kn7thvxqj/Chore%20Chart.xlsx



-Kelley-

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Polish Girl's Take on Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

Yesterday I started making plain old, boring chicken noodle soup for dinner.  About an hour in, I realized, "I really don't want plain old chicken noodle soup."  So, I ended up doctoring my soup to my own version of Greek Chicken Soup (Avgolemono).  Check it out!


Not so bad for not following a recipe, if I do say so myself!  Here's how I made it:

Ingredients
1-2 lbs chicken backs
12 c. water (approx.)
1 med. onion (chopped)
3 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 box acini di pepe pasta (normally you use rice, but this is what I had on hand)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
4-5 bay leaves
10 (approx) whole allspice
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
2 lemons (zested and juiced)
3 eggs

Put chicken backs, onion, celery, carrot, allspice, bayleaves, thyme, carrot and water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil about 20-30 minutes.  Bring down to a simmer.  Simmer for about 2 hours.  While simmering, skim the scum off the surface.  (Nice alliteration, I know.)
Remove from heat.  Once cooled, remove the chicken.  Pick off as much meat as you can from the chicken backs.  About 30-45 minutes before you're ready to serve, add lemon zest, salt and garlic salt and acini di pepe.  Bring to a boil for about 12 minutes. 
While this is boiling, juice the lemons into a bowl.  Add the three eggs, whisking constantly until it is frothy.  Remove about 2 cups of broth from the soup.  Very slowly add the broth to the lemon/egg mixture while whisking constantly.  This will temper the eggs. 
Reduce heat to about medium on the soup.  Add tempered egg mixture to the broth, slowly and stirring constantly.  Heat through for about 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.  Do not allow the soup to go above a simmer or the eggs will curdle. 
I served each bowl as 2 ladles full.  At this serving size, you will get about 11 bowls. 

 
-Kelley-

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage- Yum!

I get so excited when I find something healthy that my kids like to eat.  Last night, I made stuffed cabbage.  They ate it all up, and asked for seconds!  Yes, they actually ate it all up!  So, I thought I might share the recipe with you!



Ingredients:
12 cabbage leaves
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed (I didn't precook it and it was fine, but next time I will parboil it) (Or you can use rice in the same amount)
1/2 c. finely chopped spring onions
1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms, drained and finely chopped 
1 tsp. salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water


Directions:
Cover cabbage leaves with boiling water.  Cover and let stand until leaves are limp, about 10 minutes.  Drain water, set aside.

Mix ground beef, quinoa, onion, mushrooms, garlic, salt pepper and 1/2 of the tomato sauce.  Place about 1/3 c. beef mixture at stem end of each leaf.  Roll leaf around mixture, tucking in sides.

Place cabbage rolls seam side down in an ungreased 11x9 in. baking dish.  Mix remaining tomato sauces, sugar and lemon juice.  Pour over cabbage rolls.  Cover and cook in 350° oven about 45 minutes, or until beef mixture is fully cooked.  

Mix cornstarch and water in saucepan.  Stir in liquid from cabbage rolls. (I used a turkey baster to get the juices out.)  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Serve sauce with cabbage rolls. (I like to put it over mashed potatoes.)

-Kelley-

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Fruitcake"

I saw this quote today in the book my husband was reading, "Father to Daughter: Life Lessons on Raising a Girl." I thought it applied very well to my 9 1/2 year old as well.

"Healthier" Apple Pie

Mmm.  There is absolutely nothing better than fresh apple pie.  Last weekend my husband really wanted some.  We are both attempting to lose weight, so this was kind of a what-to-do situation for me.  So, I decided to healthify it with pure, non-GMO cane sugar and whole wheat flour.  I figured it would be slightly healthier if I reduced the processed white flour and sugar.  Neither the kids nor the hubby could tell the difference!





Here is my "Healthier" Apple Pie:

Crust
2/3 c. Vegetable Shortening
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Salt
3 to 4 Tbsp. Cold Water

Cut butter and shortening into flour and salt using a pastry blender until the mixture looks like a bunch of small peas.  Sprinkle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all the flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl. 

Divide pastry in half.  Form each half into a ball.  Roll out (on a floured board) the first ball to the desired size (about 2 inches larger than your pie plate).  Put in pie plate.

Once you've added your filling, roll out the second half.  Place on top and crimp together the edges.  Prick several times with a fork to let steam escape.  Sprinkle about 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar on top for decoration.

Filling
1/2 c. Pure Cane Sugar
3 Tbsp. Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
Dash of Salt
6 c. Sliced Granny Smith Apples
1 Tbsp. Butter (cut into pieces)

Put the sliced apples in a large bowl.  Mix in sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into pie plate (with the crust already in it).  Put the pieces of cut up butter all over the top.  Now, finish up putting on your crust.

Bake at 425° for 40- 50 minutes.  If the crust gets too brown, you can put foil on it to prevent burning.  


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Road Trip Scavenger Hunt!

This year for Spring Break, we are headed to Disney World.  Now, for us Disney is about a 7 hour drive.  While this is not the longest drive we generally make, it is still plenty of time for the kids to say "Are we there yet?"  This time, I'm prepared!  I made a scavenger hunt that I printed off for each child.  Then, I laminated it so that the kids can re-use it. (I despise wasting paper.)  Bring a couple cheap dry erase markers from the dollar store, and an old sock as an eraser. You can also use oil crayons, but I'm sure they would make much more of a mess.

*Don't have access to a laminator?  Use clear shipping tape in overlapping strips and just create your own laminated paper!*

This is the scavenger hunt I came up with-

 
I hope your kids have as much fun as mine with this!
 
-Kelley-

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marbled Easter Eggs

I hate to spend money, not that I don't like to shop or do fun things, I just don't like to spend money.  When we were at the store, looking for Easter Egg dye, the kids (of course) wanted the most expensive kit out there.  I wasn't going to have it (as usual), and we ended up buying the cheapest kit. 

Now, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean it can't be fun!  Here is how to transform a cheap-o kit into fancy, marbled eggs.


The secret it......... Vegetable oil!

All you have to do is put a few drops in each cup along with the Easter Egg dye.  Simple as that!  Just drop the egg into whichever color you want, let it sit a while, then when you pull it out, because of the oil, not all the parts will be dyed!  Simply drop it into the next color, and if desired, the next and so on!  (My kids will get a little slap happy about this whole process and keep going until all the eggs basically look about the same... a weird ugly green...)

-Kelley-

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Nothing is better than the smell of cinnamon and sugar in the morning.  What a smell to wake up to!  Well, this morning I woke up early and thought, "Why don't I treat the kids to some muffins for breakfast?"  So, I whipped some up!

This recipe is one I've been handed down from my Mom.  It was originally just called "Muffins," but my daughter re-named it this morning when she said, "These muffins taste like Snickerdoodles!"  Thus, they are now called, "Snickerdoodle Muffins!"

Here you go!

Ingredients:
1/3 c. soft shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar (divided)
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk
6 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream 1 cup of the sugar and shortening.  Add egg, beat well.  Mix and sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Add milk and flour alternately to the egg mixture.  Fill greased or lined muffin tins 2/3 full.  Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown (until a toothpick comes out clean).  Melt the 6 Tbsp. of butter.  Mix together the 1/2 cup of sugar with the 1 tsp of cinnamon. Remove from pan at once and roll in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar mixture. 

 
 
-Kelley-

Monday, April 1, 2013

Editable, Printable Calendar

I am a HUGE fan of anything that makes my life easier.  Recently, I have been counting down 'til the last day of school.  Because my kids go to an online school, I've had to make sure they will complete their coursework in time.  So, I found an online, editable, printable calendar that would help me out.  Here is a screenshot of my edited calendar (I put the number of days until the end of school on the top right of each box):

 
 
 
-Kelley-
 
 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DTI Dance Competition

Sunday, my daughter had a dance competition, DTI in Chattanooga.  I just have to say a huge congratulations to all the wonderful Bravo Dance Center Dancers!  Her company, Jr. A, won a high gold ribbon for their Lyrical dance, "Rise," a high gold excel ribbon for their jazz dance "Betty Boo," and the entire company won a high gold ribbon and 1st place in Extended Line for "Rebeat!"  Congratulations to all the wonderful Bravo Dance Center dancers!
-Kelley-

Bravo Dance Center Company 2012-2013

Jr. A Company 2012-2013

Dandelion Lemonade

Not gonna lie.  I am a HUGE fan of the health benefits of dandelions.  Here are some of the main reasons dandelion is one of my favorite teas to drink:

1. It improves digestion and aids in weight loss.
2. It eases congestion of the liver.
3. It helps purify the bladder and kidneys.
4. It reduces risk of urinary tract infections.
5. It contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B, C, and A, niacin and lutein.
6. It helps purify the blood, regulate blood sugar,
7. It is prescribed to prevent Breast Cancer according to an article in the Journal of Cancer, Epidemiology and Biomarkers & Prevention 2007.
8. It helps ease bloating and aching joints.
9. It can lower serum Cholesterol.
10. Drastically reduces acid indigestion and gas buildup.
AND MUCH MORE!!

I've searched the web and found that most people only really know this amazing flower because of "Jillian Michael's" detox drink.  Now, I have searched and searched for this "podcast" in which she apparently gives the recipe and have had no luck.  So, because her recipe couldn't be verified, I came up with my own.  All you have to do is add lemon juice!

What are the health benefits of lemon juice you ask?  Let me tell you!
1. They have strong antibacterial, antiviral and immune system boosting properties.
2. Lemon is a digestive aid and liver cleanser.
3. Lemon contains citric acid (Vitamin C), Calcium, Magnesium, Bioflavinoids, pectin, limonene and Potassium.
4. It can help with anxiety.
5. Helps control dizziness, nausea and high blood pressure.
6. Helps flush toxins out of system.
7. Studies from the American Urilogical Association show that it can cure kidney stones by forming urinary citrate, which prevents crystals from forming.
AND MUCH MORE!


Ingredients:
2 quarts Water
4 Dandelion Root Tea Bags (Dandelion Leaf will work too- You can buy them in the organic section at Kroger)
1 c. Lemon Juice
Stevia to taste

Boil the two quarts of water.  Pour into pitcher.  Add tea bags.  Let steep about 10 minutes.  Add 1 c. lemon juice.  Let cool or serve warm.  I usually let it cool and then add two packets of stevia to a 16 oz glass.  Unlike the "Jillian Michael's" recipe, there's no reason to drink this all in one day.  I drink this like regular lemonade, but my favorite time to drink it is after eating a fatty or high sodium meal because it aids in digestion and will is also a natural diuretic, so my body won't retain the water as much.  (And it actually helps.)


-Kelley-


Sources: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7134/8-reasons-to-drink-dandelion-root-tea.html, http://www.livestrong.com/article/206366-what-are-the-benefits-of-dandelion-root-tea/, http://www.leaflady.org/health_benefits_of_dandelions.htm, http://www.healtharticles101.com/top-10-dandelion-tea-benefits/, http://cloverleaffarm.hubpages.com/hub/Health-Benefits-of-Dandelion-Root, http://www.beliefnet.com/Health/Physical-Health/Hidden-Health-Secrets-of-Lemons.aspx, http://krizzyla.blogspot.com/2011/01/top-10-health-benefits-of-lemon-juice.html, http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-lemon.html

Hubby's Favorite Birthday Cake

Tuesday was my husband's birthday.  To celebrate, I made him his favorite cake: White Cake with Whipped Cream Icing and Strawberry Filling.  As you  know, I like to keep things simple, so I found a few cheats to making this fancy sounding cake.  This year I discovered the new Cool Whip Frosting.  It was very tasty, I highly recommend it to those of you who like whipped cream icing, but don't like having to prepare it.  Here's how I made the cake:

Ingredients:
1 box Duncan Hines White Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1 c. Water
1/4 c. Vegetable Oil
1 Tub Cool Whip Frosting (I used the vanilla flavor)
1/2 jar of Strawberry Preserves

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Pour into two greased 9 inch cake pans.  Bake at 350° for 26-30 minutes.  Let cool.
Once the cakes are cool, arrange bottom layer of cake on whatever you plan on serving it on.  Put a small amount of frosting on the bottom layer (in the middle where the jelly is going to go.)  By putting the frosting on first, the cake won't get soggy.  Next, heat the jar of preserves in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between each time.  When the preserves are nice and viscous (warm, but not hot), pour the jelly onto the middle of the cake.  Spread until you make an even layer.  You can make this as thin a layer or as thick a layer as you want.  Pick up the top layer of the cake.  Turn upside down to where the jelly will be touching the cake.  Put a small amount of frosting over it so it won't be soggy. Place the top layer on top of the bottom layer and finish icing cake.

Let set a few minutes before serving.
 
-Kelley-

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fun Online Countdown Timer

Every day my son has to do 20 minutes of printing practice.  He hates this more than any lesson we have to.  So, as always, I've been on the lookout for ways to make this more fun.  We've discovered having a different timer every day helps.  First we tried an egg timer, then we went through all the different ring tone timers on my phone and finally, when the phone had run out of options, I went online. 
After googling and using many generic timers, I discovered this really cute website for classroom timers.

http://www.online-stopwatch.com/classroom-timers/

Today we are using the "army timer" as my son calls it.

 
I thought this was a cute find and just wanted to share it with you all!
 
-Kelley-

Brown Rim Cookies

Brown Rim Cookies are one of my absolute favorite cookies.  Perfect for dunking in coffee or tea, these cookies are lightly sweet, a mix between a shortbread and a butter cookie.  They get their name from the slight brown rim that developes around the edge as they are baking.  This recipe has been handed down in our family for generations.

Brown Rim Cookies

Ingredients:
1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour

Combine shortening, salt and vanilla.  Add sugar, then beaten eggs and beat thouroughly.  Add flour and mix well.  Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. Let stand a few minutes, then flatten cookies with a glass covered with a damp cloth.  Bake in 375° oven for 8-10 minutes or until delicately browned.

These will make about 54 cookies if dropped by teaspoonful, about 36 cookies if dropped by tablespoonful.



Sneaky Veggies

Yesterday I wasn't feeling so well, so I decided to do something simple for dinner.  It was cold outside and my husband wanted something hearty so I decided on a simple pasta bake.

Pasta Bake:
Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef (I used Ground Chuck)
1 Jar Pasta Sauce
1 Box Ronzoni Garden Delights Penne Rigate (Sneaky Veggies)
1 c. Shredded Italian Cheese (Mozzarella will work fine)

1. Boil pasta according to box directions.  Drain and set aside.
2. Brown ground beef and season to taste.
3. Layer ingredients in a baking dish.  I used an 8x8 in square dish, but usually use a rectangular Pyrex dish.
4. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden on top.  You can cover with foil if necessary to prevent the cheese from becoming too brown.
5. Once removed from oven, let set about 5 minutes before serving.


 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Looks Like Slop, but Tastes Mighty Good!

Crockpot + Chicken = Easy and Delicious!

Yesterday was kind of a crazy day.  Everything that could go wrong did.  So, while the online school (OLS) was down- meaning we couldn't access classes- I decided to run some errands. 
I was sitting in the Kroger parking lot, not wanting to buy too much for dinner and had already gotten chicken breasts out.  What did I do?  Start scrolling through my Pinterest boards of course!

Here's what I came up with:
http://team-t-adventures.blogspot.com/2010/01/easy-crockpot-chicken-stuffing.html
 
 
Easy enough, right?  Let me tell you, this was FABULOUS!  Not intricate, go to a fancy restaurant fabulous, but easy to make and the kids will actually eat every bite of it fabulous.  It tasted like a chicken and stuffing dinner without all the work.
Just a bit of a side note... I didn't really pay attention to the directions and added too much sour cream and forgot the water.  I don't think it made much of a difference.  Here is how it turned out:
It kinda sorta looks like the picture on their blog... heehee.  I think mine looks more like slop, but whatever, it tastes delicious anyways!
 
-Kelley-

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sneaky Leprechaun Feet

So... a compilation, huh?  Yep.  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Kelley and I am the mother of two wonderful children, Maddie  (9) and Spencer (7).  Of course, everyone says their children are wonderful, right?  We're supposed to- we're mothers!  Haha!  Well anyway, we also have three crazy, loveable (but not  always wonderful) dogs- Roxy (9), Norman (6) and Penney (2).  My husband, Allan is a fantastic, hardworking entrepreneur who makes sure we are all well taken care of.

Paints a rosy picture, right?  Now, let me tell you... I "homeschool" my kids through an online public school.  Not gonna lie.  It. Can. Be. Rough.  While I love my kids, my dogs and my husband, our crazy busy schedule and the kids being always around makes me look for things to make my life easier.  That's where the compilation comes in.  I scour the internet (especially Pinterest) and find things to not only entertain my kids, but also cut down on my cleaning time, my cooking time and last but not least, (if it ever happens), my work out time.  Basically anything to make my life easier and more fun.

So... This past weekend was St. Patrick's day.  I tried to be all cutsey and make "Shamrock Shake" cupcakes.  Okay.  I go to the store, pick up white cake mix, Duncan Hines Frosting Creations starter and their chocolate mint flavoring.  We're good to go, right?  Nope!  I started mixing everything together and realized we're out of eggs!  Good thing bananas can be substituted for eggs... Not so good when you've added peppermint extract to the batter...  My daughter said, "These taste like banana bread with a hint of mint."  Let's just say, attempt at fun failed.

Well I felt bad about the failed cupcakes, so I decided the "leprechaun" needed to come.  (Since they are no longer in Brick and Mortar (B&M) public school I try to make sure they're not left out of holiday festivities.)  This attempt at fun did wonderfully!  The little leprechaun snuck in the house, left footprints all over the shower and bathtub, peed green pee in the toilet (complete with footprints) and absolutely trashed the kids' bathroom.  The kids were so suprised the next morning when they woke up!

Here's a picture of the footprints on the shower wall:
 
Now, you may be asking, "How did those sneaky, little leprechauns leave their footprints on the wall?"
I will tell you how!

1. Make sure your kids are fast asleep.
2. Sneak into their bathroom or whereever the leprechaun will be leaving footprints.
3. Take watercolor paints (sold at any craft store or some grocery stores.) I used the little cheap-o ones that the kids had to get at the beginning of the school year.  These are easy to wash off skin (aka no evidence), and easy to wash off surfaces (aka little-no mess for mom).
4. Make a fist. 
5. Paint the side of your hand green.
6. Press your hand whereever leprechaun footprints are needed. (Use right hand for right foot, left hand for left foot).
7. Dot paint above hand print for toes.
8. Continue as needed!

I hope that gives you some ideas for next year.  I hope to see you all next time for some more of my wonderful compilation!
-Kelley-