Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Easy Taco Dip

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Are you in a hurry and need a quick and easy appetizer to take to the party? or Is it game night at your house and you don't feel like making a huge dinner? Either way this Taco Dip recipe is for you! It is quick and easy to make and taste amazing. My husband and I have made this as a quick dinner for the two of us a few times and it was a huge hit the Game Day lunch at my husband's work!

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Easy Taco Dip

Makes a 9x13 pan

Ingredients:


  • Jar of Refried Beans OR Homemade Refried Bean
  • 1 packet of Taco Seasoning
  • 1 stick  Cream Cheese (8oz) - softened 
  • ¾ container of Sour Cream (8oz)
  • Salsa to liking
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Black Olives - Optional
  • Tostito's Chips


Directions:


1. Mix the Refried Beans and the Taco Seasoning together in a bowl and spread on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

2. Mix the Cream Cheese and the Sour Cream together in a bowl and layer it on top of the Refried Beans. 

3. Layer the Salsa to your liking on top of the Cream mixture.

4. Sprinkle with Shredded Cheese.

5. Top with Lettuce and Olives to your liking. You can add tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc... to the top if you desire.

6. Keep refrigerated until served. Serve with Tostito's Chips! 

NOTE: In the picture, we halved the recipe and made a smaller portion for the two of us.




Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Baby's First Keepsake Ornament


Christmas is right around the corner and this Christmas I have two little ones to celebrate with. Last year I made a Baby's First Keepsake Ornament for my daughter. My due date was Christmas eve but she decided to make an early entrance so I was busy trying to get the whole new mommy thing down so she didn't get her Baby's First Keepsake Ornament until the following year. I just made my son's ornament a few days ago. They are super easy to make, super cute, and super cheap.


Supplies
All you need is Puff paint or Paint Pens, your baby keepsakes (hospital hat, patient bands, and anything else you have that will fit), and a clear plastic or glass ornament. I prefer plastic because it's baby proof!!! You can finds these at any craft store and I'm sure Walmart has them but I haven't looked. I bought mine at Micheals two years ago when my daughter was born but they still sell them there. I think I paid .40 cents max for a big plastic ornament because they were on sale.


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UPDATE: So I recently had my third baby and made him a keepsake ornament out of his hospital items. We didn't get the pink and blue hat the other two got when they were born but we did get a hospital hat so I squeezed the hospital hat and his ID bands into a plastic ornament and personalized the ornament with my son's name and birth date. I used a green Sharpie paint pen to personalize his ornament.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Teacher Ornament Tutorial: Personalized Apples


One of my husband's coworkers needed a smaller gift for her son to give to his teachers for Christmas and asked him if I could make ornaments. I have made ornaments in the past but never one for a teacher so I decided to give it a try and here is what I came up with:

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I think they turned out pretty good and my husband's coworker and son were very pleased as well. Her son was so pleased he was trying to come up with more teachers to give them to... too cute! 

Supplies:

  • Plastic or Glass Ornaments (plastic is safer, especially if your kids will be handling them) - You can buy theses at any craft store. 
  • Red, Black and Green Paint Pens - I used Painters Paint Pens by Elmers and the only one that worked right was the red so I DO NOT recommend buying this brand.
  • Ribbon - I used a solid red and a teacher themed one from Hobby Lobby. 
  • Cord Ribbon - .99¢ at Walmart
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Skew, Chop Stick, or something similar - Optional
  • Mod Podge and small paint brush- Optional
*See UPDATE below for paint pen preference.

How To:

1. Draw the apple on the front of your ornament and let dry.

2. Once the apple is dry you can personalize it with your teachers name. Let Dry.

NOTE: I recommend wiping down the surface you plan to draw on before you begin. I used a Magic Eraser to wipe off my ornaments in hopes that it would also make the surface a little more ruff so the paint pens would stick better since they weren't sticking when I started. If the paint pens appear watered down, shake them a little more and if they still appear watered down then it is probably your paint pen and you will have to put a bunch of coats on to get it to show up like I had to do with my green and black.


3. Once the design was dry I covered it with Mod Podge by painting a circle around the year and apple and filled it in. Let Dry. This is optional because the paint should stay on the ornament but I did this because I was having trouble with the paint pens and I wanted it to last forever and not scratch off. The Mod Podge also gave it a nice shine.

4. After the Mod Podge was dry I wrote "Love, student's name" in the middle of the back of the ornament so that the teacher would know who it was from for years to come.

5. While the ornaments are drying go ahead and cut your paper into small strips. I cut my paper in half then folded it and cut thin strips. I used three sheets of paper for five ornaments if that helps you figure out how much you need to cut.

6. Spiral the strips of paper. I did this by wrapping each strip tightly around a wood skew I had. You can wrap the paper around anything similar such as a pencil or chop stick. You can also wrap the paper strips around your finger but they won't be as tight of a spiral.

7. Remove the top of the ornament and fill the ornaments with the spiraled paper till you are satisfied with how it looks and put the ornaments top back on. Each ornament will need at least 15 strips of the spiraled paper.



NOTE: Filling your ornament is optional of coarse and you can fill the ornament with whatever you choose. I chose paper because I thought it would add to the ornament since paper is related to teaching.

8. Cut the ribbon and cord to your liking and tie it around the hook at the top and let it hang. I put one strand of red and one strand of ABC123 ribbon on each ornament. I then attached the cord to make a nice hanger for the ornament. You can use any hanger you would prefer thou.

*Ribbon that looks like a ruler would look cute too!

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9. Wrap it up and let your kid give it to their teacher!

These ornaments took a while to make because the black and green paint pens didn't want to stick to the plastic ornament and kept evaporating but if they worked like they were suppose to it wouldn't of taken that long. I think these ornaments turned out really cute, the pictures don't do them justice and I'm glad my husband's coworkers family loved them, I hope the teachers do to. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

_________________________________________________

UPDATE: I made more Personalized Apple ornaments this year as gifts and wanted to share them with you. This year I used Sharpie Paint Pens and they worked ten times better then the Painters brand I had last year. DO NOT USE PAINTERS PAINT PENS, THEY ARE AWEFUL. Because I used Sharpie Paint Pens I did not have to seal the ornament. The Sharpie pens are oil based so the paint stays on plastic ten times better. I also used an extra fine black tip paint pen to write with so the names looked a lot neater than before.








Wednesday, December 9, 2015

100+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men


*Affiliate Links are used in this Post


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We've all been there before walking around the stores trying to find something small to fit in our husband's stocking and we usually result in buying his favorite candy, maybe some deodorant and socks.  I still recommend getting him his favorite candy because he may be disappointed without it but if you are tired of the same old boring stocking stuffers then check out this list for some more  ideas. I've listed over 100 Stoking Stuffer Ideas that came to mind, I know I probably left some out but this should be more than enough to help you fill that special man in your life's Stocking this year!

100+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Men:


Bath and Body Stocking Stuffers:
- Cologne or Cologne Sample
- Deodorant
- Razor
- Shaving Gel
- Shower Gel
- Lufa
- Travel Kit
- Toothbrush
- Floss
- Comb or Brush
- Chapstick
- Men's Manicure Set or just Nail Clippers
- Skin Care Lotion
- Sun Screen


Clothes and Accessories Stocking Stuffers:
- Boxers
- Socks: Fussy, Regular, Running, Winter, Dress
- Handkerchief
- Knit Hat
- Gloves
- Scarf
- Watch
- Fitbit
- Bowtie
- Tie
- Tie Clip - order personalized ones on etsy if you want it to be more meaningful
- Cufflinks - order personalized ones on etsy if you want it to be more meaningful
- Suspenders
- Wallet
- Money Clip
- Sunglasses
- Shoe Polish
- Shoe Laces
- Paracord Bracelet, Necklace or Keychain


Food and Drink Stocking Stuffers:
- His favorite Candy - no brainer
- His favorite Gum
- Mini bag of Chips
- Individual Wrapped Cookies
- Mini sauce: tabasco, hot sauce, A1, buffalo sauce, etc...
- Water Flavorings: liquid or packets
- Hot Chocolate
- Cigar
- Mini Liquor Bottles
- Bottle Opener
- Flask or Personalized Flask
- Shot Glass
- Koozie
- Coasters
- Personalized Tumbler or Sports Team Tumbler - some may be too big to fit in a stocking
     *check out my blog on how to make your own Personalized Tumbler
- Knife Sharpener


Hobby Related Stocking Stuffers:
- Fishing Gear - lures, bobbers and hooks are all small enough to fit in a stocking
- Golf Ball and Golf Tee
- Baseball
- Tennis Ball
- Ping Pong Balls - for Ping Pong or Beer Pong
- Guitar Picks
- Mini LED Flashlight
- Safety Glasses
- Work Gloves
- Magnetic Work Wristband - helps hold nails and screws
- Pocket Knife
- 12 in 1 Multi Tool Set
- Drill Bits
- Saw Blades
- Tape Measure
- Screw drivers - they make mini ones 
- Tire Pressure Gage
- Bungy Cords
- Clamps
- Duct Tape - it can fix everything
- WD-40
- Zippo Lighter
- Binoculars
- Ammo
- Ear Plugs
- Hand and Foot Warmers
- Poncho
- Man Apron
- Grill Tools Set
- Grill Glove
- Kabob Skewers


Homemade Stocking Stuffers:
- Coupon Book
- Food Passport
- Ornament
- Love Poem
- Reasons Why I Love You list
- Picture Coasters
- A-Z Date Book, a planned date, or date ideas


Misc. Stocking Stuffers:
- Lottery Tickets
- Movie Tickets - you can pre order them online
Concert Tickets
- Sporting Event Tickets
- Gift Cards to his favorite store or restaurant
- DVD
- CD
- Video Game - most video games will fit in a stocking 
- Smaller Book
- Book Light
- Bookmark
- USB Drive
- Portable Charger
- Car Adapter
- Car Air Freshener
- Car Decal
- Car Snow Scraper
- Headphones or Earbuds
- Phone Case
- Keychain
- Compass
- Batteries
- Deck of Cards
- Uno
- Phase 10
- Dice
- Rubix Cube - they sell themed rubix cubes
- Fancy Pen with a Notepad
- Ornament of his favorite character - Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, or one with a picture of you two in it


XXX  Stocking Stuffers:
- Condoms
- Lube
- Sexy Picture of you in a Santa hat
- Sexy Underwear hinting at what he may be getting later
- Sex Games: Bedroom Dice, Truth or Dare, etc...
- Handcuffs
- Chocolate Syrup
- Edible Body Paint Pens

I hope you enjoyed this list and that I was able to help you fill that special man in your life's stocking this year. I'll update the list if I think of more, feel free to comment more ideas you may have since I know I left some out! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rose Petal Keepsake Christmas Ornament

When I was eight months pregnant with my daughter my Great Grandmother who we called Grammie passed away and went to be with the lord. We were all so excited when we found out I was having a girl because we would of had five generations of females, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. At the funeral, I was given a single pink rose for my daughter with a ribbon around it that said "Great Great Grammie". As everybody knows, roses begin to wilt and eventually die. I kept trying to think of a way to preserve the rose so that my unborn daughter could still get to have this precious keepsake besides the ribbon just being stored in her baby book. Since it was almost Christmas, I came up with making an ornament. I bought some ribbon and clear plastic ornaments from Michael's and got to crafting.

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My husband and I gently pealed the rose petals off of the three roses we had from the funeral and placed them into the plastic ornaments until they were about ¾ of the way full. I then used some black Puffy paint to personalize the ornaments by writing "Grammie 1921-2013" on them. As the puffy paint was drying we made two bows out of the ribbon we bought and attached the bows to the ornaments using a hot glue gun. We attached the ribbon we had that said "Great Great Grammie" on it to our ornament and saved it for my daughter. The other two we made and given as gifts for my mom and my grandmother so they could have a special keepsake to remember their mother/grandmother by. Every Christmas this special rose petal keepsake ornament will hang on our Christmas trees and we will be reminded of what a great and wonderful women Grammie was and know that she is now in a better place watching over all of us!


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This craft is super easy to make and doesn't cost a lot either. It is a great way to preserve flowers from any occasion whether it's a wedding, funeral or maybe an anniversary. You can personalize it however you want using puffy paint or paint pens, or just leave it blank and every year as you hang your rose petal keepsake ornament on your Christmas tree you will be reminded of that special person or moment that the flowers are from. I hope you enjoy this craft!

Below is another Rose Petal Keepsake Ornament I recently made for my son in honor of my Grandfather, his Great Grandfather, who we knew as Pop-Pop. Pop Pop passed away the night before I gave birth to my son. My son was born with and still has blue eyes that he got from my Grandfather because neither my husband or I have blue eyes, its crazy how thing happen. At the funeral they had a red rose with a ribbon on it that said "Great Pop Pop" on it. I filled the ornament with the rose after it had wilted and hot glued the "Great Pop Pop" bow onto it. I then wrote on it with a paint pen in one of his favorite colors. This Christmas I will hang both my keepsake ornaments on our Christmas tree in honor of the loved ones that we have lost and as a reminder of what great people they were.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Colorful Turkey Craft at Book Buddies

Last Friday I checked out a program called Book Buddies that the South Madison Family Resource Center puts on once a month for children 0-5 years of age. This was the first time I attended this event and I enjoyed it! My daughter is almost two so I thought I would give it a try. I was afraid that it would be geared toward older children and my daughter wouldn't know what was going on, but she was fine! They started off with a puzzle which my daughter is to little for but it was fine because it takes her a little to warm up to people. After the puzzle everybody sat in a circle and sang a Hello song, followed by a few other songs that were Turkey themed since Thanksgiving is almost here. They then read a book and played a "5 little Turkey's" Game (kind of like 5 little monkey's). They then made this adorable Turkey craft that was adult supervised and guided of coarse, enjoyed a snack which I think was my daughter's favorite part and they ended Book Buddies by allowing the children to pick out a book for them to keep and a Good-Bye song. I think I enjoyed it more than my daughter did, I mean seriously, who could pass up a craft, snack, free book and the opportunity to meet new people? Hopefully I will be able to go back each month. Book Buddies lasted about 45 minutes and is geared toward early childhood learning. Everything they do helps prepare your child for school and gets them ready for when that time come, it even takes place in an Elementary School. If you are in the Madison County area in Kentucky, I recommend taking your little one to Book Buddies, you won't regret it!

Colorful Turkey Craft: 

*I did not come up with this idea, I'm just sharing it because it was easy and cute!

Supplies:
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  • Half a paper plate
  • Tissue Paper cut into squares
  • 2 Googly Eyes
  • Brown, Orange and Red construction paper
  • Red Pipe Cleaner (optional if you don't have red construction paper)
  • Glue
  • Scissors

How To:

All we had to do was glue everything onto the paper plate because they cut everything out already since the children are too little to use scissors. The mom's put the glue on the Turkey and the kids placed the items where they wanted them.

1. Cut our all your objects: tissue paper squares, paper plate in half, a medium brown circle for the body, a red gobbler, and orange feet and beak.

2. Glue the brown body onto the center of the plate.

3. Put some glue at the top of the feet and glue them to the back of the body. 

4. Add some glue where you want the eyes, beak, and gobbler and let your child put them on the glue.

5. Cover the paper plate in glue and let your child cover it with the tissue paper squares. Let Dry.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bridal Party Gift Ideas


My husband and I got married May 25, 2014. We gave our bridal party a gift when we asked them to be in our wedding and at our Rehearsal Dinner as a Thank you for being a part of our wedding. I don't have pictures of all the gifts, but I will describe what we did!

Asking the Bridal Party: 

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Bridesmaids:
- I asked my Bridesmaids by giving them a Ring Pop and a Raspberry Smirnoff Vodka Shot that said, "Now it's my turn to POP the question... Will you take a SHOT at being my Bridesmaid?

- Since my sister was under 21 I gave her a two pack DVD with Bride Wars and 27 Dresses in it to help prepare for my wedding. I included a paper that said, "Will you be my dress wearing, bouquet holding, mascara checking, champagne soda drinking, photo taking, dance floor dominating Bridesmaid?"



Groomsmen:
- My husband asked the Groomsmen by Icing them. He wrapped up a Smirnoff Ice with the saying, "I got down on one knee now it's your turn. Will you be my Groomsmen?"

_________________________________________________________


Wedding Party Gifts:


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Bridesmaid's Gifts
Bridesmaids:
- Personalized Martini glass with their name, what they were and the date to use for the toast; a mini bottle of Martini Champagne, a black make up bag, purple nail polish to match their dresses and earrings to wear with their dresses.


Groomsmen:
-  Personalized Martini glass with their name, what they were and the date to use for the toast; a mini bottle of Martini Champagne and an engraved wooden bottle opener my husband bought from etsy.


Children (Ring Bearer, Petal Patrol and Flower Girl): 
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Groomsmen Gifts
What they were wearing in our wedding ( flower girl - tutu and Ring Bearer/Petal Patrol - tuxedo t-shirts with their duty on back), bubble sticks, and a bunch of candy (fun size chocolate bars, ring pops, star burst and blow pops)


Ushers:
- Personalized Martini glass with their name, what they were and the date; their favorite candies


Mother of the Bride/Groom:
- 3 opening Picture Frame we bought from Hobby Lobby. We put a picture of us with our mom when we were little in the first opening, then we each wrote our mother a letter/poem thanking her for everything she has done in the second opening and we put a post-it note that said "Wedding Picture Here" in the third opening for them to replace it with a picture of them with us.
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Mother of the Bride/Groom Gift

*** Here is a tutorial on how I made the Personalized Martini Glasses for the wedding party.

_________________________________________________________

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- For our guest we ordered plastic cups that said "Cheers to the Happy Couple" on them with our names and wedding date. This way we didn't have to waste money on cups that were just going to get thrown away, our guest could use them to get refills and they could keep them for future use at home. We were going to go with purple cups but we had blue and purple Martini's to match our wedding colors so we went with grey cups so they Martini colors would stand out!


Our last name is Martini if you were wondering why we chose Martini glasses, Martini cups and Martini Champagne as gifts for our bridal party. Match your gifts to your wedding color scheme when deciding what to give your bridal party and try to think of things they will like. Hope this helps when coming up with gift ideas for your wedding party!!!
***You can view my blog on how we managed to have a wedding on a $5000 budget here: DIY Wedding under $5000

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Black Friday Shopping Guide 2015


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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means all the Black Friday ads have been released, granted Black Friday has become more of a Black Thanksgiving evening over the last few years but that doesn't stop people from going out, shopping and trying to get the best deals! Black Friday is Friday November 27, 2015 this year but several stores open Thanksgiving evening. I've posted links below to the main retail stores Black Friday ads and hours:




If I didn't post a link to a store you like to shop at, check out The Black Friday.com or Black Friday FM . Both those websites have a full list of all the stores Black Friday ads that have been released.

Note that Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Dillards,  DSW Shoes, Game Stop, Lowes, Sam's Club, Staples, TJ Maxx, and several other retailers will be open on Black Friday but refuse to open on Thanksgiving day because they believe Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and I don't blame them!

For those of you that love Black Friday shopping and do it every year, I'm sure you have it down pack by now but for those of you that are new to Black Friday shopping here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Have a Game Plan: check out all the deals online/print ads before you go to the store and figure out exactly what you want and what store has it at the price you want and write it down. Make sure you know what time the stores open and what times the deals you want are valid that way you don't waste your time at a store if there offers don't start till later. Also make sure you know what stores are located in the same area that way you aren't wasting gas and time driving back and forth.
    • Compare Prices before hand to see what stores offers what you want for the lowest price. Example: Walmart's DVD's are cheaper than Target's DVD's so if you want DVD's go to Walmart.
    • Bring the store ads with you that way you know exactly what is on sale and how much because the prices sometimes get moved and aren't always marked.
  • Start Early: by getting an early start you are more likely going to get what you want because there will be a better inventory. If you go later the lines most likely won't be as long but the stores will be out of a lot of their sale items.
  • Pack a snack and drink: Throw some snacks and a water bottle in your purse or your car for when you get hungry. All the walking around and standing in line will wear you out especially if you are planning on being out all day. By packing a snack and drink you will save money and time because you won't have to wait in line to buy food. You can also refill your water bottle at any water fountain and keep shopping.
  • Dress Comfortable: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes because you are going to do a lot of walking and standing around and you don't need to be uncomfortable while doing so. Also I recommend wearing layers like a hoodie/zip up with a short sleeve shirt under it because all the walking around and the crowd of people in a small area can make it hot inside. Layers will allow you to cool off a little if you end up burning up.
  • Make sure your phone is CHARGED! That way you will have something to keep you busy in line, you can access the store ads and hours online, save coupons to your phone, contact someone incase of an emergency or find your shopping partners if you get separated. 
    • There are several Black Friday apps you can download that will give you a list of all the Black Friday ads, savings, etc... I've never used one, but they may come in handy.
  • Ask for Gift Receipts: Always keep your original receipt but when checking out make sure to ask for a gift receipt because most of what you will be buying will be gifts for other people. Yes I know it is the thought that counts but some things won't fit or they just may not like what you bought them so will want to return it and if you have a gift receipt it will make the return process a lot easier.
  • Don't Shop Alone: Bring a friend or a family member. I know several families that go out Black Friday shopping every year as a family tradition. Shopping with somebody will make shopping more fun because you will have someone to talk to and you can cover more ground if you are with more people. They may not need something in a store but can help you grab everything you need quicker. They can also wait in line if the lines are long while you grab your items real quick.
  • Stay Calm: With all the people and great prices things are bound to go south at some point. Stay calm and keep your cool because arguing with the line cutter or the rude sales person will only ruin your fun shopping day and at the end of the day it's really not worth it. 
If you aren't into the whole Black Friday shopping deals and fighting the crowd its okay, several retailers have already started offering sales in their stores and free Holiday shipping online so you can get some of the Black Friday sales without leaving your house! I hope everybody has a Great Thanksgiving and I wish everybody safe and happy shopping on Black Friday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Creamy Caribbean Chicken and Rice

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The other night my husband had meetings so would be home late so I decided make dinner. I threw this meal together in about 10-15 minutes and it was a HUGE hit, the picture doesn't do this meal justice. I had pineapple and black olives in the fridge that were on the verge of going bad if not used soon so I decided to make something with them. Here's how:

Creamy Caribbean Chicken and Rice

Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients


  • Rice - I used brown Minute rice
  • 1 can of shredded chicken breast - drained; you can fry some chicken on the stove if you prefer, it may taste better but if you are in a hurry, can chicken works great!
  • Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend to taste
  • Caribbean Jerk Seasoning to taste
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ can of milk
  • Corn Flakes - crushed
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Pineapple Chunks 
  • Diced Black Olives

Directions


1. Cook your rice. I used brown Minute rice that takes 10-15 minutes to cook on the stove. Follow the directions that came with whatever rice you choose to cook.  I made enough for 4 servings.

2. While your rice is cooking, drain the can of chicken or fry up some chicken on the stove. Dump the can chicken into a greased skillet and add some seasoning to your liking. I used Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend and Caribbean Jerk to go with the pineapple but you can use any seasoning you prefer. Stir until all the chicken is seasoned.

3. Add a can of cream of chicken soup. Fill the can halfway full of milk and stir in the milk. If you add to much milk it is ok, just add some corn starch or flour to thicken it a little. Let the chicken/soup/milk mixture set for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from burning.

4. Once your rice is finished, fluff it and put it on a plate or bowl. Pour some of the chicken soup mixture on top of the rice. Next add a handful of crushed Corn Flakes, a handful of shredded cheese, some pineapple chunks and black olives and enjoy!

*You can add any topping you prefer. My husband doesn't like olives so I don't put any on his. If you don't have corn flakes you can use chow mien noodles instead. Some other toppings you can add include but are not limited to water chestnuts, onions, dried cranberries, green or black olives, pineapple, diced apples, peppers, etc... I would stay away from peas, green beans, and carrots though because this in not a stir fry.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family did! My two year old kept saying "yum" and finished it super fast so I guess I got the approval to make it again, plus this recipe is super easy and super fast if you are in a hurry or just starving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The 12 Dates of Christmas


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I made "The 12 Dates of Christmas" as a gift for my husband, then fiancĂ©,  Christmas 2013. This gift took lots of researching and planning but didn't cost a ton of money being that a lot of what we did was free. I started working on this gift a few months before Christmas being as we were expecting our first child Christmas Eve. Our daughter was born nine days early and it just so happened to be that I finished making this gift, stuck if under the Christmas tree and went into labor a few hours later, perfect timing if I say so myself.


What Is It?


The 12 Dates of Christmas are twelve preplanned dates for you and your significant other to go on throughout the year. You give the twelve preplanned dates as a Christmas gift and at the beginning of each month they get to open the envelope that includes everything you need for that date.


My Direction Letter:


My Direction Letter
"I read the other day that some of the best advice given to a married couple was to never stop dating each other. Since this is going to be a very busy year with graduation, a new baby, a possible wedding, a new job, and possibly moving again, we may not get a lot of time for each other; so this Christmas I decided I would make it a little easier by giving you the gift of creative dating for the year of 2014.  As you can see there are twelve labeled envelopes.  Inside each envelope is a preplanned date.  At the beginning of each month you can open the envelope to see what date we will be going on that month.  We will then pick a day that month that works for both of us to go on the preplanned date.  Every date consists of something different and few include traveling and maybe a little extra planning but you’ll just have to wait and see! And if you absolutely hate the idea we can come up with something else to do that month and yes we can bring the baby on all of our dates… I think.  I hope you enjoy your “Twelve Daytz of Christmas”.  I love you baby and Merry Christmas!!!"

Date Envelopes:


I decorated each envelope with the month and a hint as to what we would be doing on that date. I then filled the envelopes with a letter explaining our date, print outs that I mainly made of where we would be going or a game we would be playing, gift cards for restaurants and fake money if we needed to spend some cash. I also included some small things like candy or glow sticks if they went with the date. Once everything was in the envelope, I sealed it and placed them in a decorative box I bought at Michael's.


Example of the Date Letters:


"On the FIRST date of Christmas my true love gave to me a nice date to bring out the child in me! Since we have a new baby, lets start with something simple by coloring and watching Disney movies all day long while indulging in some of our favorite childhood foods!!! Included is a list of all the Walt Disney movies created up until now so take a look, pick out a few, and enjoy the show! Once the movie marathon has begun we can pig out on our favorite childhood foods while coloring in your new Disney coloring book. To remember this date lets attempt to create caricature drawings of each other by making us look like Disney characters."


Dates:


Be creative and look for different things going on in your area. I came up with way more than twelve date ideas and combined several, but I'm saving my others for future dates. You can stick to the basic dates like dinner and a movie but I tried to come up with more original dates to keep it interesting. Enjoy!

_________________________________________________________

January: "The Child in Me"


My husband loves Disney and Mickey Mouse so I created a stay at home date around that idea. We has a Disney movie marathon, ate some of our favorite childhood foods, colored a few pages in a coloring book and attempted Caricature drawings. I included a list of all of the Disney movies ever made for him to pick from (we ended up watching what we had or Netflix Disney Movies), a coloring  book and crayons in the envelope. 

COST: $1.50 for the coloring book and crayons.

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January's Date Envelope
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February: "Get the Scoop"


I got the idea for this date from The Dating Divas: Get the Scoop date. Of coarse I made it my own but all in all its the same idea. For this date we made homemade ice-cream and played a game of Truth, Dare or Would You Rather. The Dating Divas had a print out for the game but I didn't like theirs so I made my own semi-adult version of it with a bunch more cards that related more to our lives. You basically dump all the cards in a bowl, "scoop" out a card and get the "scoop" on each other while enjoying a nice "scoop" of ice-cream. I also included seven simple homemade ice-cream recipes for my husband to choose from. We ended up making two of them but one had to stay in the freezer overnight so we didn't get to enjoy it until the next night but the Five minute strawberry ice-cream we made turned out pretty good. 

COST: Ice Cream Supplies


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February's Date Envelope
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March: "Guy's Night"


This date is suppose to represent what almost every guy loves to do: Sports, Beer and Wings. On this date you will attend a sporting event whether it's free (kids game or school game) or a professional game then after the game grab a bit to eat at a sports bar: wings, beer and watch more sports on TV; the usual guy stuff. I included a $25 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings in the envelope.  

COST: $25 gift card and game entry fee

***We did not get to attend a sports game because it didn't work out but we still went to Buffalo Wind Wings and the movies instead.

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April: "Memory Lane"


April marked three years of dating for us so our date was to re-create our first date to an extent. We played 500 Rummy, ate at Outback Steakhouse and watched a movie on Netflix. We skipped the ice-cream because we were too full from dinner but basically we did things we did at the beginning of our relationship. I included a deck of cards and a $50 Outback gift card in the envelope.  

COST: $50 gift card

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May: "Something Beautiful"


For May we traveled to Louisville, KY where we visited the Louisville Nature Center and 21c Museum Hotel. Both of these places are free. The Nature Center had a butterfly garden and a hiking trail and the 21c Museum Hotel had an Art Gallery on the bottom floor of the hotel. This hotel is in several different locations so check your area if you are interested. We had never been to either of these places and they were alright, worth going to at least once. I do wish the hotel had more art thou, a few of the rooms were closed so maybe they were switching it out. The back up date for this was visit a Zoo and the Art gallery because I wasn't sure if the Nature Center was a legit place with things to do or not.  

COST: Free

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May's Date, hiking at the Louisville Nature Center

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June: "Walk in the Park"


June's date was suppose to be an at home Cake Decorating Class using YouTube Tutorials and Pinterest. (June is my Birthday month if you were wondering why I chose to randomly make a cake) Then to Lake Reba to visit the dog park, go for a walk, and have mini competitions on the playground such as who can swing the highest or who can do the monkey bars the most times in a row. After playing around at the park, find a nice open spot to end the date at the park with none other than cloud watching and a mini Picnic that consist of the cake you made. 

COST: Cake Supplies

***We ended up making an awesome blue zebra cake in March for my mom's Birthday so my husband made blue raspberry cookies instead. Then we went to Lake Reba fishing so we didn't stick to the plans for this one.

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June's Date, fishing at the park
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July "Tasty Goodness"


July's date is a tour of a bourbon distillery where you can tour the distillery, learn all about how bourbon is made, and even taste the distilleries famous bourbon.  I made a list of ten different distilleries in our area, eight of which are on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  This list includes the distillery’s hours, cost, location, and distance away. Depending on which one you choose, you might be able to hit up more then one in a day. The envelope had this list and the letter explaining the date. You can add a mini bottle of one of the bourbons if you'd like, I was just afraid it would leak out so I didn't include it. 

COSTThe tour prices vary from free to $12 a person, most of them are $7 a person so this can end up being an expensive date if you visit all of them.

***We have yet to go on this date because I ended up getting pregnant with our second child but we still have it and are waiting on the right time. Pictures will be posted whenever we finally get to go on the Bourbon Trail!

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 Information pages I made for the Ten Distillery Tours
*information is from 2013
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August: "The Bookworm"


There are supposedly a million and one things you can do inside of a bookstore so you are going to do them all… Just Kidding, you are only going to do a few of them.  This date takes place at a bookstore of your choice, we chose Barnes and Noble. I got this date idea from The Dating Divas: Bookstore Date. The link has all the direction and print outs for you to use. Of coarse I made my own version but its pretty much the same thing. Basically you have six different task to complete while at the bookstore. I chose this date for August because thats when school starts back. The August envelope included the letter, the directions, and a bag of sour gummy worms to snack on and ask my husband if he wanted to be my Bookworm date. 

COST: $2 - $4 depending on what gummy worms you buy.

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August's Date, bookstore fun!
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September: "Rock n' Roll"

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The Scavenger Hunt I made

On this date we took a trip to the Pinnacles (different hiking trails up a mountain). To make our hike a little more interesting I put together a Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt. The rules are simple, the first person to find all of the objects wins a kiss or you can choose to work together in finding all of the objects. I choose September for this date because it's a little cooler outside and we had signed a rock when we had been dating for a few months, 9/29/11, which was part of the scavenger hunt (I changed the picture though incase you want to use my Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt). Of coarse the sharpie had worn off over the three years but we still found the rock. We found everything on the Scavenger Hunt except a Squirrel. We even found a baby snake but no Squirrels. 

COST: Free

Click to Print The Nature Scavenger Hunt


***My husband's Birthday is in September so I included an extra mini date for this month. A dinner of his choice, online Karaoke which we did not end up doing, and whatever he wanted to do, movie or game wise, because of coarse it is his Birthday so he should get to do what he wants!

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September's Date, hiking at the Pinnacles 
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October: "Just Patchy"


"On the TENTH date of Christmas my true love gave to me a way to start the holiday festivities... and who better than me, the perfect match to accompany you to the pumpkin patch." On this date we visited a pumpkin patch and went on search for the perfect pumpkins. While at the pumpkin patch you can take part in any other activities they may offer. Once you have found the perfect pumpkin, take it home, scoop out the seeds and carve something awesome. My husband made a Mickey Mouse pumpkin and I carved Frankenstein. October's envelope included a letter, directions and information on pumpkin patches in our area, a few pumpkin carving stencils I found on the internet, and some orange tic-tacs that I changed the label to say "Pumpkin Seeds" instead of Tic-Tacs.

COST: around $10; Price of pumpkins and tic-tacs.

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October's Date, visiting a pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins
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November: "Light's Out"


November is a time to give thanks. At some point throughout the month, each of you take a moment to write down a few things you are thankful for that the other person does. These will be shared on your date night.  This months date is going to be a Power Outage, which means no cell phones, no computers, and no electricity. Start the date by cooking a mini Thanksgiving dinner, which should include a meat, sides, bread, and a dessert. Once dinner is ready the Power Outage Date shall officially begin. After dinner you can partake in games or conversation. The whole point of this date is to spend some quality time without technology getting in the way. We decided to make pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and rolls for our mini Thanksgiving meal since we would be getting enough Turkey later that week; after dinner we played cards, charades, and talked. November's envelope included the letter, some glow sticks, a list of what we would be doing and suggestions of other things we could do and the Thankful Turkey.  I had the Power Outage date idea saved in my date ideas a while ago but mine was a little different (forts, no technology, and quality time), when looking up more ideas I came across The Dating Divas: Power Outage Date and liked their idea better. I also used their Cowboy & Pilgrim Bedroom Game idea but changed the game to the Thankful Turkey, etc... so really only used their turkey I guess. 

COST: Glow Sticks- $2; Dinner - $?

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November's Date, candle light dinner and games - NO TECHNOLOGY ALLOWED
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December: "ABCD Dating"


For December I decide I would finally let my husband choose a date... to an extent... December's date is a Multiple Choice Date: Christmas Edition. The envelope included my letter and a note that consist of different Christmas related ideas for him to choose from. This date may take more than one day depending of what he chooses. We made cake balls, watched The Grinch and went to the Southern Lights. I ended up making an ornament but my husband didn't so maybe next year! You can make this date anything you want, it doesn't have to be Christmas themed. 

COST: around $20 depending on what you pick
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The Choices I gave my husband for our date!
Make these dates and letters your own. Use your creativity and research cool, new, and possibly free things to do in your area. Make the dates something you and your significant other would enjoy doing and remember to never stop dating each other! I hope you enjoyed this blog and that my 12 Dates of Christmas help you when coming up with dating ideas. I know I over brainstormed for these dates and came up with way more than twelve but I'm saving them for future date ideas. Let me know what you think and some of your creative date ideas! If you ever have trouble coming up with date ideas you should check out The Dating Divas website, they have tons of cute ideas and printables. 


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