Friday, October 25, 2013

FREE Thanksgiving Printable Invitation

 We're excited to offer another FREE printable just in time for Thanksgiving!! This is a super easy invitation to print off and send to friends and family. Do not spend any money at the store buying invitations, you probably have everything you need already at home.

Click on the image below to enlarge it, then right click and select "save as." Save it in a folder where you can find it later on your computer.

Next, locate the folder where you saved it and open it in your picture viewing program (Microsoft Picture Manager etc.). Select print and when the print dialogue box opens, select 5x7, 2 copies per page and UNCHECK "fit to frame." See my screen shot below. Different computers will look different, this is just how mine looks.
 Print, fill out your info and send!

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Cheddar Garlic Mashed Potatoes with French Fried Onions

I think that mashed potatoes are an ultimate comfort food.  At my house they always accompany warm and cozy foods like turkey, or pot roast.  But I want to eat them way more often than that!  You can change them up and add different things to them to make them better accompany what you are having for dinner.  I don't think I have ever measured the amount of salt, pepper, butter, or milk that I add to my mashed potatoes, but I did today.  Please adjust if you find it necessary.  Mashed potatoes are easy to make just start with less milk because you can always add more.  

  • About 5 Medium Russet Potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • About 1/3 Cup Milk (start with a little less)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • French Fried Onions
Serves about 6

Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cut into chunks and place them in water.  Bring water to boil and cook until fork tender.  Drain.  Place in large bowl and add butter, milk, and garlic.  Using electric hand mixer beat until smooth.  Add more milk if needed.  Add in cheddar cheese and a handful of French Fried Onions and mix throughout.  Top with a little more cheese and a couple of onions and serve!

I served this with Cranberry Pork Tenderloin, green beans, and Homemade Cranberry Relish.
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2x4 Pumpkins

I love fall!  So of course I love to craft and decorate for the season.  This year I made a few things with scrap wood.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  1.  My boys think of it more as "Building" not crafting and 2. They have discovered that they love to paint.  I love when they want to participate so I am all for it!  Don't be surprised if  I continue the "building" crafts into winter!  

  • 2x4 (or 2x2) Piece of wood
  • Orange Paint
  • Wood Glue
  • Various Artificial Fall Foliage, Berries, or other
  • Ribbon
  • A stick with approximately a 1 inch diameter (for the stem)
  • A Piece of Sand Paper
  • Hot Glue Gun
First I cut the 2x4 to the appropriate lengths.  I made the large pumpkin with 2- 8 inch and 2-10 inch pieces.  The smaller ones are made with 2- 6 inch and 1-8 inch pieces.  This allowed me to make 3 small and 1 large without wasting any of the piece of wood.  PERFECT!!!!  Next, I lightly sanded the rough edges.  I then glued the pieces together.  The small pumpkin has 6 inch, 8 inch, 6 inch and the large is 8 inch, 10 inch, 10 inch, 8 inch.   Make sure to center the smaller pieces on the larger ones.  Then using two shades of orange paint ( I put them both on a paper plate and lightly swirled them together as I painted the wood) I painted all sides of the wood.  The wood needed to coats of paint.

After they were dry I glued a piece of the stick to the top of the pumpkin.  When that glue was dry, I tied a piece of ribbon around the stick and then attached a few pieces of the accessories.  I used the hot glue gun to secure them in place.

Make sure to check out the Frankenstein I made with a piece of scrap wood
Here is the link to Frankenstein

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Key West Grilled Chicken

My in-laws recently returned from a trip to Key West.  My husband and I love Key West so this marinade is inspired by their vacation there.  The chicken was delicious, but the whole time I was eating it I was thinking "I want to use this marinade to make chicken fajitas!" So needless to say I will be making this marinade again!  

  • 1/2 Cup Key Lime Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 4-5 Chicken Breasts
Serves 4-6

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a small bowl.  Whisk them together until smooth.  The honey will disolve pretty quickly.  Place chicken in ziploc bag or glass bowl and cover with marinade.  Refrigerate for about 30-60 mins.  Grill until cooked throughout.

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Crock Pot Apple Sauce

Fall is the perfect time to pick apples.  I like to bake a variety of things with the apples we pick, but I LOVE to make applesauce.  My grandma often made homemade applesauce and I always looked forward to eating it.  This recipe is so simple and the perfect addition to any meal.  I love the balance of sweet and tart apples so feel free to mix up the variety of apples you use.  And remember applesauce is just as good warm as it is cold.  I make a double batch of this and freeze a little more than half to use throughout the winter.

  • About 6 lbs or 12 Apples (I used Gala Apples)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Apple Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (you can start with less and add more after you taste it)
Peel and slice apples.  Place them in the crock pot with cinnamon, apple juice and brown sugar.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.  Stir to mush into applesauce.  I like my apple sauce a little chunky, but you could also you a potato masher to eliminate more of the chunks.  
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Frankenstein From a Piece of Scrap Wood

  • 2 Large Google Eyes
  • Green Paint
  • Black Felt
  • Tiny Piece of White Felt
  • Craft Wire
  • Black Paint
  • 2 Bolts
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Paint Brush
  • Scrap Piece of Wood (I used a 1x6 that was 12 inches long)
This was a very easy project to complete.  The most time consuming part was waiting for the paint to dry.  I actually got the piece of wood from the hardwood store for $0.50.  I drilled a hole in each side of "the neck" that was slightly smaller than the bolt.  I painted all sides of the board.  I used two different colors of green paint to get the color that I wanted.  While the paint was drying I cut the felt hair and eyebrows and cut the wire for the stitches .  Once the paint was dry I attached the eyes, hair, eyebrows, and bolts with a hot glue gun.  The stitches around the head were a little tricky at first, but once I figured out how to best attach them I was good to go.  I wrapped the wire all the way around the piece of wood and twisted the ends together to keep it in place.  Then I glued the stitch pieces on top of that wire.  Then I used black paint for the nose and mouth.  I also rubbed a little black paint on my fingers and placed on the bolts and various placed on the face to make it look worn/dirty.  Last I attached the small (tooth) piece of felt.  

Check out what else I made with wood
2x4 Pumpkins
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Spooky Spider Ice Cubes

I was looking for something super easy that would entertain the kids for a bit.  They love to mix and cook but I am not always up for the mess.  I decided I could deal with a little spilled water because that is an easy clean up.  These ice cubes entertained Nathan and his friend for a long time.  I had the boys use tongs to place the spiders in the ice cube trays to help them work on their fine motor skills.  Then I let them fill their measuring cups with water from the refrigerator door (which was exciting for them...sometimes it's the little things that make them happy)  They had to very carefully walk it back to their seats and pour it in.  It took them a couple of tries (and towels) but t hey learned to pour slowly so it didn't over flow.  Then we place them in the freezer.  Our friend was coming over the next day too so we left the water alone over night to let it freeze.  The next day they were excited to serve their spooky drinks to Nathan's grandma.  I showed them how to break apart the ice and gave them each a large bowl to play with.  They first tried to melt them with their hands.  We had a race to see who could melt it the fastest.  Then we compared how fast ice cubes melted with cold water vs hot water.  It was a fun little experiment with out a lot of mess!!

  • Plastic Spider Rings
  • Ice Cube Trays
They were concentrating.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Disney Bucket List 2013

My Disney World countdown is into the teens and I have been diligently planning.  This trip is different from other trips with have taken in the past. The first thing that is different is that we are NOT doing the Disney Dining Plan.  The second is that we are staying at moderate resort.  The third thing is that we are traveling without the Henderson Family (the other Magical Mom's family).  We are quite sad that they will not be joining us and I am secretly hoping that they will show up to surprise us!!!!!  Ok maybe it is not a secret... I have been trying to convince her for weeks.

Since we are not doing the Dining Plan, we don't have a lot of dining reservations.  I feel like since we are not tied to reservations we have more free time throughout the day, I am hoping to be able to cross off some things that we have just not had time to do in the past.  This is not my list of top things to do at Walt Disney World.  This is a list of what I hope to accomplish during this trip.  I am excited that my list includes the perfect mix of must do's and experiences that are "off the beaten path".

  1. Ride Test Track-  My oldest son and I have ridden it, but it has always been closed for refurbishment while my husband has been there.  This time we will ALL ride it!
  2. Mail a Coconut from Caribbean Beach Resort.  Yes, you  read that correctly.  We plan on mailing a real coconut from the gift shop at our resort.  Who will be the lucky one to receive it?
  3. Go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party-  Scott and I attended last year without the kids and the kids and I attended the year before but we have never all attended at the same time.  This year is it!
  4. Take the kids to Illuminations- We have never taken the kids to Illuminations.  Crazy right?!?  We have used Kids Night Out babysitting service a couple of times and we always end up going to Epcot for an adults only evening.  This time I want to take them with us.  
  5. See the Jammin' Jingle Parade- We have seen the Jammin Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom, but since we will bet there during the Christmas season we plan on seeing this holiday version of the parade.  
  6. Go to Tom Sawyer Island.  My boys are very much into exploring.  We plan to take the short boat ride to the island and spend some time checking it out!  I also plan on getting to the bottom of the "Paint Brush" stories I have heard!
  7. Captain EO- I have heard rumors that this attraction will be closing soon and there is no way I want to miss this MJ experience!
  8. Find DiVine- DiVine is a street performer in Animal Kingdom that hides a midst the trees and foliage.  She can be difficult to spot but is a magical sight to see once you do find her.
  9. Watch Festival of the Lion King Show-  I always feel so rushed when we are at Animal Kingdom and we always end up missing the great shows.  Hopefully not this time!
  10. Flag Ceremony at Magic Kingdom- Everyday at 5pm the Magic Kingdom has a flag lowering ceremony.  We have never participated in it
  11. Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom- This is ALWAYS on my list and it should ALWAYS be on your list!  It is one of the most magical moments.  It sets the tone for the whole day, plus being some of the first people in the park is unforgetable!
  12. Go to the campfire and make s'mores at Caribbean Beach Resort-  Every evening the Caribbean Beach resort (which is where we are staying) has a campfire and marshmallow roasting.  They even have movies under the stars.  Lots of resorts have similar evening experiences.  Make sure to find out what is special about your resort.
The list of rides and attractions I want to do and see is very long.  My youngest son is FINALLY 40 inches tall so we will not be using near as many rider swaps as we have in past visits.  At the top of his list is......

   13.  Star Tours-  This attraction is a family favorite.  Both my boys love Star Wars and I am so excited for my little guy to ride it for the first time!!!

I will update when we return from our trip.  It is important when you go to Disney World to have a plan, but don't make your plan too exact.  You need room for flexibility.  Personally I always want to do it all, but I know that is not possible.  I think that it is possible to complete these 13 things, but plans can always change.
 Wish me luck!  

See how we did here!
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Shake It On- Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

This is a recipe that isn't really a recipe because I don't measure any of it.  The first time that I made this I had a bulb of garlic that needed to be used so I just went with it from there.  I had seen a few different recipes for 30 or even 40 cloves of garlic and a whole chicken.  But I was seriously scared to try that much so I started out small.  This was not my first time making a whole chicken in the slow cooker, as a matter of fact I cook it that way often.  8 Spice Lemon Chicken, Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken, and BBQ Rubbed Slow Cooker Chicken are a few of my family's favorites.  All of these recipes are incredibly easy and they are sure to please even the pickiest eaters!

  • 15 Garlic Cloves (or 1 bulb)
  • 1/2 of an Onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 lb Whole Chicken
  • White Wine
Serves 6-8
This fed my family of  TWICE!!!

Rinse and pat dry the chicken.  Peel garlic, slice onion, and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Sprinkle all sides of the chicken with the spices.  Place chicken in slow cooker breast side up.  
 Place a couple tablespoons of butter under the skin of the chicken.  Place about a half a cup of white wine in the bottom of the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Chicken will be so moist and delicious!  It will fall apart!
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mom's Meatloaf

I have been trying various meatloaf recipes for the last few years.  This one is by far the front runner!  My oldest son even said "huh, I didn't even know I liked meatloaf."  I will take that as a compliment and mark it down as a keeper.  I know that most people say they just throw whatever in to make a meatloaf, but that doesn't work for me here. Most of the time I can throw things together and it turns our great, meatloaf is a whole different ball game...until now!
  • 1 1/2 lbs of Ground Beef
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dried Parsley
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup stove top
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Serves 6

In a small food processor place about a 1/2 bag of Stove Top stuffing mix and pulse a few times to make it so the crumbs are a little smaller.  In a large bowl combine parsley, egg, milk, garlic powder, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce.  When those are mixed together, stir in the Stove Top crumbs.  Last, add in the ground beef and gently mix it all together with our hands.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients.  Divide glaze in half and reserve one half for dipping after it has been cooked.

Place ground beef mixture into loaf pan and lightly brush on glaze.  Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400 degrees.

I served with Mashed Potatoes and Peas of course!
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is something that everyone in my house can always agree on and since the meatloaf from the other night was such a hit with everyone I decided to try a meatball variation with the Stove Top Stuffing crumbs.  The kids were a surprised when they cut into their meatballs and found their favorite food- CHEESE!  This recipe is going straight to the top of my "Kid Friendly" recipe list!  The stringy gooey cheese is sure to make anyone say YUM!

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Stove Top Stuffing Crumbs (place dry Stove top in food processor and pulse a few times)
Makes 12 meatballs 
Grab enough meat to make a meatball and gently flatten it in your hand.  Place a piece of mozzarella inside and then for the meat into a ball.
Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees.
 I made mine the day before I needed them and put them in the fridge.  When ready I heated the meatballs in the pan of spaghetti sauce for about 15 minutes.  Then served sauce and meatballs over pasta.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Playdoh Party Favors

Many schools are encouraging healthy treats for parties and some are even suggesting non-food items.  I decided that I was going to make Playdoh Jack-o-Lanterns for my son's preschool class.  They were very simple and used very basic ingredients so it didn't cost me an arm and a leg either.  

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 TablespoonsVegetable Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 6oz pakg Orange Jello
  • Small Cello Bags
  • Ribbon
  • Happy Halloween Tag
  • Black Sharpie
This is enough to do 10-12 small balls

In a medium sauce pot combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, and jello.  Mix together.  Then add water and vegetable oil and whisk until all the lumps are dissolved.  
Over medium-high heat stir continuously as mixture begins to thicken.  This will take a couple of minutes
Continue stirring and folding the dough as it becomes more solid.
Remove from pan and place on wax paper to cool.
After Playdoh cools place rounded balls into the cello bag.  Attach the tag and tie the top closed with a small piece of ribbon.  Last draw a Jack-o-lantern face on the bag with a black sharpie.  

Here is the link for the Happy Halloween Tags
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Monday, October 7, 2013

The Disney Countdown is ON!

We are very excited to be counting down the days to our next Disney vacation.  When we reach our 30 day mark we have a tradition of hanging up our countdown calendar.  This isn't the only countdown we have going, but this one signifies we are getting CLOSE!  We (sort of) surprised the kiddos with this trip, we only told them we were going about 10 days ago.  We made this countdown together a couple of years ago and I keep it stored in a ziploc bag when we are not using it.  It is very simple.  We hang it on a magnetic chalkboard in our basement, but could easily be hung on the refrigerator or back of a door.

  • Card Stock
  • Magnet Tape

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our Magic Bands Were Delivered! (unboxing video)

I am so excited that our family was selected to use the new Magic Bands at Disney World for our upcoming November trip.  My husband is a technology junkie and part of his daily job involves making unboxing videos for products so of course he wanted to do one for this!  It was fun to work together with him on this.  I am sure that he will convince me to make other videos for the blog so stay tuned!  This was my first video so please don't be too harsh:)
There is lots of hype about the Magic Bands and I can see why... from the packaging to the technology and functionality the are sleek and SUPER cool!.  I just might wear it as an accessory before the trip... lol.

Now you can watch the video and see exactly what comes in the box!

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Mushroom Risotto

Every time I say I made risotto for dinner people look at me like I am crazy.  I used to feel the same way.  All the stirring and pouring and keeping it the right temperature overwhelmed me.  This time I decided I wasn't going to stir constantly (I stirred OFTEN, just NOT constantly). When all was said and done, it was delicious and no one but me (and now all of you) knew that I cheated and didn't stir the entire time!

  • 1 Cup of Mushrooms- chopped ( I used a combo of Shitake and Portabello)
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Shallot- minced
  • 2 1/2- 3 Cups of Chicken Broth (warm)
  • About a tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
Serves 4

In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil.  Add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes.  When shallot starts to soften add in the mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add in rice and toast for 2 more minutes.  Pour in the wine and cook until it has all been absorbed (about two I just wanted to say 2 minutes again!)  Next, add 1/2 cup of warm chicken broth and stir OFTEN until it is almost all absorbed.  Repeat this until broth is gone/rice is cooked all the way.  Risotto is meant to be creamy and slightly chewy.  Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese and parsley.  Stir to combine.  If risotto is too thick add a small amount of chicken broth to loosen it.  Salt and Pepper to taste.
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