Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Blog: Moonlighting Mama


Change is a good thing; it keeps us moving, and can inspire us. I had been thinking for a while that it was about time for a change here at Sugar Plum Delights. When I started this blog, it was mainly about my crafty side-business of the same name. My original goals for the blog were basically to showcase what I was working on for my Etsy shop and craft fairs and so on. But as the years went on, the blog started to evolve, and I was posting more than just crafty things. So, I decided to diversify and start a new blog: Moonlighting Mama.

With this new blog, I intend to talk not only about crafting, but to work in more cooking (see Freezer Cooking Fridays), a little design here and there, home stuff, and maybe even a little financial management. I wanted to broaden my focus and not be tied down to a certain topic, which is how I felt with the this blog.

So, please bear with me as I build this new site; fun things are coming! All of the old contect from right here on Sugar Plum Delights is there, including all of the great recipes and tutorials. More of that is coming too! Please bear with me on the design of the new blog; I'm still working on it.

And lastly, why the name Moonlighting Mama? Well, I have two children and a husband, I work full time outside the home, I have a crafty side business and a Scentsy business to maintain. Most of the work on my other projects happens after the kids go to bed, which is when the moon is up. So, I’m a mama, and I moonlight.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Extra Holiday Cash Part 2: Sell it For Cash on Ebay



Looking to make some extra money for the holidays this year? There are multiple ways to do it, you just have to be a little savvy. This post is the second in my new series on ways to bring in some extra cash, most without dipping into your regular monthly budget. I'm by no means an expert on the matter, but who doesn't want a little extra cash here and there? Stay tuned over the next week or two as I list out more ideas to make your holidays a little less stressful on your wallet.

Part 2: Sell it for Cash on eBay

If you have some old stuff laying around that you're not using anymore, sell it for cash! If you have a lot of kids' clothes that are in good condition, but you don't need them anymore, put them on eBay and make a few bucks. This also goes for adult clothing. People are always looking for a deal, especially on kids' clothes and shoes, and even adult clothing. Brand names usually do better than generic store brand stuff, but you never know. Group like items (shirts, for example) together and sell them as a 'lot'. This time of year people are looking for gently used winter coats and boots and ski apparel. Take a few good pictures, list them, and wait. Of course there are fees associated, but they're minimal.

Household and electronics items are also popular, again, especially the brand names. This was more than a few years ago (my single days!), but one summer I basically supported myself by selling dishes on ebay. I would buy the dishes cheaply (clearance aisles at outlet stores!), then resell them for a profit. You just have to make sure that the brand name you're selling is what people are looking for before you start buying things. You don't want a pile of stuff you can't resell laying around taking up space!

If you don't have anything at home you want to sell, consider checking out yard sales and estate sales. Sometimes people just don't want the hassle of trying to make more than a few dollars on their used expensive items. That's where you come in: buy them out, clean them up, sell them on ebay! Thrift stores are another source, but you have to get there early. Find out when your local thrift store gets their shipments, or when they stock their shelves. Sometimes it's helpful to get know an employee or two. I once found a practically brand new Stephen Joseph child's backpack for $2. These bags retail for at least $20; more if they're personalized.

Again, unique, well cared for items generally do very well. Check your parents' attic or basement for the toys you had when you were a kid. Vintage toys in good condition could bring in more than you might think.

So take a look around! I have a bad habit of buying clothing that's a good deal, and then never wear it. Because of that bad habit, I'm about to start getting of some things myself! Good luck!

Want more ways to earn a little extra cash? Check back next week for tip #3. Don't want to miss any posts? Subscribe via email!



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Series: Making Extra Cash for the Holidays - Swagbucks



Looking to make some extra money for the holidays this year? There are multiple ways to do it, you just have to be a little savvy. This post is the first in my new series on ways to bring in some extra cash, most without dipping into your regular monthly budget. I'm by no means an expert on the matter, but who doesn't want a little extra cash here and there? Stay tuned over the next week or two as I list out ideas to make your holidays a little less stressful on your wallet.

1. Swagbucks - Swagbucks is basically a search engine similar to Google. In fact, your Swagbucks search results are pulled from Google, but you can earn points, or bucks, just for doing searches. It's totally random; just do a Swagbucks search anytime you would use Google, and your bucks will add up quickly. Swagbucks also releases Swag Codes every now and then to add even more bucks to your account. So what do you do with these bucks you're earning? Use them to buy rewards, of course! My favorite reward is the $5 Amazon Gift Card, which you can buy for 450 Swagbucks. If you use the search regularly and keep an eye out for codes, you'll get there in no time. You can also earn bucks from referrals, taking surveys, watching commercials, and even playing games.

I highly recommend downloading the Swagbucks Toolbar for your browser, that way it's right up there at the top of your page any time you want to do a search. There are many rewards available, including gift cards to loads of different retailers and restaurants like Starbucks, Travelocity, Restaurant.com, Alice.com, O'Charley's and Home Depot, as well as electronics, toys, home accessories, and more. Go on, check it out.

I'll be using my Amazon gift cards bought with Swagbucks to buy Christmas presents. Or maybe I'll just save them up to get that iPad I've been wanting. :)


Want more ways to earn a little extra cash? Check back later this week for tip #2. Don't want to miss any posts? Subscribe via email!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Holiday Entertaining: Start Planning Now with This Guide



Are you planning on entertaining this holiday season? Are you tired of trying to live up to all of the gorgeous pictures and ideas in those magazines at the checkout stands, and failing? Because, really, no one can recreate those tables and that home decor, except, of course, Martha herself.

If you're looking for ideas on how to beautifully decorate your home, cook a feast fit for a king, get the kids and the rest of the family involved all without losing your sanity and still keeping money in the bank, this guide is for you.

Erin Chase, also known as the $5 Dinner Mom, has created the perfect guide to thriving, not just surviving, this holiday season: The Holiday Entertaining Guide.

The guide includes:
  • How to budget for your holiday meal
  • What you must include and what you can leave out
  • Getting the most value from your coupons
  • A plan for cooking everything all in one oven
  • How to turn the leftovers into more great meals
And best of all, with this guide you get 30 simple recipes. Now that's a deal.

The Holiday Entertaining Guide is available now in eBook format, but it's also available for your Kindle, Nook, and coming soon to your iPad and Kindle Fire. Get it now!

You'll also receive the following bonuses:
  • FREE Holiday Planners
  • FREE Holiday Treats - an additional 10 recipes for yummy holiday sweets!
Special Offer!
Get The Holiday Entertaining Guide now for 50% Off! Enter the coupon code THANKS to receive The Holiday Entertaining Guide, free printable planners, and free additional 10 treat recipes for just $1.99. Go get it!

To give you a little taste of what's included in the guide, here's a sample recipe:

Carmelized Onion and Blue Cheese Bruschetta

Two powerful and delicious flavors collide over toasted bread slices.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
16 slices baguette bread, thinly sliced
½ cup blue cheese crumbles

DIRECTIONS

“Balsam-melize the onions” – In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then stir in the chopped onions, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Let cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often. (The onions can be cooked up to 2 days ahead of time and stored in the freezer until ready to assemble and broil.)

Meanwhile, slice the baguette bread, place on a baking sheet and run under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the pieces some. Then add the “balsam-melized” onions and a few crumbles of blue cheese to each bread slice. Run under the broiler again for 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese softens.

Serve Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Bruschetta.

Makes 16 appetizers.
 
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Doesn't this make you want more? Go here to get your Holiday Entertaining Guide now!
 
 
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Freezer Cooking Friday: Menu Plan 10/29


I know I skipped Freezer Cooking Friday for the last two weeks, but it’s back! It’s time for another round of cooking ahead and getting my freezer stocked up again. I’ll be heading to Sam’s Club on Saturday morning bright and early (if 10am qualifies as bright and early) to pick up some staples and meat. I’ll be buying one 5 pound pack of ground beef, and one large tray of chicken breasts. Then Saturday or Sunday afternoon – most likely during naptime – I’ll be whipping up some dinners to have later in the week.

Here’s the plan:

Ground beef:
Chicken Breasts:

So, that's the plan. Be sure to check back next week to see what I actually finished and have in the freezer! I'll also include reviews of any new recipes that we tried. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in my Freezer Cooking Friday series!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipe: Easy Beef Enchiladas

I don't even know how I started making this recipe, but I whipped it up one time for my parents back in my single days, and it's been a hit in my family ever since. My kids even love these enchiladas, and that's saying a lot right there. The recipe has been adapted a little bit over the years here and there - sometimes rice and/or refried beans will be added - but for the most part it stays pretty basic. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Shannon's Easy Beef Enchiladas
Photos Coming Soon!

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pack flour tortillas, small or medium, whichever you prefer - base it on your pan size
  • 2 cups chredded cheddar cheese (I prefer Sharp)
  • 2-3 small cans or 1 large can Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce (my fave) - amount depends on how saucy you like your enchiladas
Brown ground beef with onion until cooked through. Mix in taco seasoning according to instructions on packet. Remove from heat.

Pour about 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in bottom of greased baking dish and spread around. I usually use a 9x13 glass dish.

Place one tortilla on a plate, and spread about a teaspoon of sauce around entire tortilla. Scoop meat and onion mixture on tortilla, then sprinkle with cheese. Roll, and place seam down in pan.

Continue with the rest of tortillas until you either run out of meat or space in the pan.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, making sure all of them are covered. I also like to make sure the sauce gets down in between the enchiladas - if they're packed tightly in the pan, I just scooch (technical term) them aside a bit as I pour the sauce.

If you're freezing the enchiladas to cook later, STOP HERE. Cover the pan in foil, then wrap in foil again. If you're using a smaller pan, like an 8x8 foil pan, cover in foil, then slip into a freezer bag. Make sure you mark the package somehow that's Enchiladas. No one likes a mystery pack in the freezer! When you're ready to bake the enchiladas, thaw, remove foil, then continue the steps below.

Top entire dish with shredded cheese according to your taste. We love cheese in this house, so I usually use a full 2 cups on the top.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until it's nice and bubbly and the cheese on top is melted. Tip: If you like crispy, or slightly burnt cheese, leave them in a bit longer. We happily discovered this one time when using an unfamiliar oven timer.

Dig in and enjoy!

The great thing about this recipe is that it's easy to adapt to your tastes. The measurements aren't exact; use as much or as little sauce and cheese as you like. Add more vegetables, use chicken or turkey instead of ground beef if you like.




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Crockpot Salsa Chicken

If you're a crockpot nut like me, you're going to love this. The only thing better than throwing something in the crockpot in the morning to be ready that evening is just dumping the premixed ingredients out of a freezer bag into the crockpot. No fuss, no gathering of ingredients, just dump it, turn on the crockpot (a very important step), then go!

If you've been paying attention, I've started a series called Freezer Cooking Fridays right here on this blog. This series stemmed from my newfound love of Freezer Cooking, so I've been trying to combine Freezer Cooking and Crockpot Cooking. The results have been great so far! It's simple: take your favorite Crockpot recipe, gather ingredients, do any prep work needed, put everything in a freezer bag, and pop it into the freezer. Then when that busy morning comes along, toss everything from the freezer bag into the crockpot, set it, and you're done! You don't even have to thaw it out, which works out great for me.

So, are you ready to try it for yourself? Here's a perfect recipe to get you started with Crockpot Freezer Cooking...

Crockpot Salsa Chicken - Freezer Style
photos coming soon!

Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of salsa or picante sauce (regular size jar)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained, or about 2 cups of frozen corn
Combine ingredients in freezer bag, place in freezer. Done!

Night before Cooking Day: take bag out of freezer and leave in fridge overnight. If it doesn't thaw a little bit, you might have a hard time fitting the frozen chunk into the crockpot.

On Cooking Day: Dump contents of freezer bag into crockpot, and cover. Cook on low 8 hours or until it looks good. If ingredients aren't frozen, cook on low 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.

Enjoy!

Blogging FAIL

So, remember back in the first part of October when I said I was joining the Ultimate Blog Challenge for the month of October? 31 posts in 31 days? Yeah. Well, it's still October, and let's just say I've failed this challenge miserably. I could blame it on the fact that I went on a bit of a vacation and wanted to "unplug" a bit while at the beach, or I could say that things have been super-busy at work (true), but really, I can't make excuses. I knew all of these things were going on when I signed up for the Challenge. I could have planned better and wrote posts to schedule for later. But I didn't. I got lazy. So now I'm owning up. I'm not going to hide from it.

Blogging FAIL.

But, I am planning to do things a little differently around here. I want to make more of this blog, attain a little focus, maybe change the name and add new goals for my bloggy-self. No more excuses.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Typography Tuesday on Wednesday - Subway Art

Subway Art, or Subway Sign art, has taken the crafty blog world by storm. It's everywhere. And you know it's a thing when Restoration Hardware picks up on it and is selling it, too. Or maybe Restoration Hardware started the whole thing, I'm not sure.

Anywho, Subway Art is certainly trendy right now. It's inspired by the vintage signs found in subway stations with the different routes/trains listed. Something a little like this:


These are reprints that are being sold be Restoration Hardware. I love the look of them; clean, simple, straight, and not much extra space (or "white" space).

If you check out their selection, you'll see these reproductions are a tad bit spendy. So, crafty people out there in blogland are creating their own versions of subway art, and some of them are quite nice, in my opinion. This type of art is being adapted to many different things: family rules, wedding invites, holidays, birth announcements, etc. Below are a few favorites I've seen out there...


A birth announcement I created (of course I had to throw in something of my own!)






Those are just a few examples of what my crafty friends are creating out there. If you have Photoshop and want to do this on your own, Saved By Love Creations has a fabulous tutorial. Check it out, and get creating!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Update


Well hello there. I admit, I haven't been keeping up with the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and now I'm over a week behind in posting. That's just not good. I feel like I have a valid excuse though: I was on vacation. And who thinks about blogging when they're at the beach? Okay I did think about it a little bit, but I just didn't act on it. I didn't open Blogger one time while on vacation. I don't think I even did that much internet surfing, which, for me, is kind of huge. But it was vacation. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Now, however, it's time to face reality and get back into routine. Today was Monday, the first day back to work and school, and it wasn't so bad. Hopefully that trend will continue for the rest of the week.

Stay tuned for regularly scheduled programming! I have some recipes to post, some typography to talk about, and more.

Thanks for coming back!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Freezer Cooking Friday: Recipes to Try


Today's Freezer Cooking Friday consists of a list of recipes that I want to try, and those that we've enjoyed over the past week. I didn't do any freezer cooking this week, but we have been enjoying the fruits of my previous labors! I love having a stocked freezer.

Here's what we had in the last week:
  • Monday: Enchiladas (recipe coming soon!) - this was the first time I tried my regular enchilada recipe for the freezer. It was a hit! They weren't soggy, or too dry, so I'll be making this one ahead again soon. Really soon. I love enchiladas.
  • Tuesday: Hawaiian Chicken in the Crockpot, from Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. Another yummy one that's always a family favorite. It's so easy to throw everything in a ziploc bag to freeze, then on cooking day, just dump it into the crockpot. Dinner is done!
  • Wednesday: Tacos - pre-cooked and seasoned ground beef, thawed, reheated in microwave. Such a timesaver.
  • Thursday: Leftovers for me and the hubs, chicken nuggets for the kids. Also known as "cop-out" night.
  • Friday: Typically our day to eat out, or dine with parents, which is the case tonight (spaghetti!).
The freezer stock is getting low, but we're on vacation next week, so I won't do another session of cooking/prepping for probably another two weeks. But I can still hunt down recipes in the meantime, and get a headstart on planning. Or at least, planning the way I plan - lists in notebooks.

Recipes I want to try in my next cooking session:
  • Cheesy Rigatoni Bake, Daily Dish Recipes - Looks so cheesy! I love cheese, so I know this would be a winner
  • Cheddar & Cracker Chicken, What's Cooking Chicago - This was on my list to try last time, but I ran out of chicken. Definitely doing next time. Again, cheese.
  • Pepperoni Roll-Ups, Dinner with the Donnells - I love pizza, the kids love pizza, and who doesn't like crescent rolls?
  • Taco Meat - a staple in our house
  • Enchiladas - see above
  • Crockpot Orange Chicken, The Pursuit of Happiness - this one looks really good, so I think I'll make it this go 'round.
Well, that's a start. Have you tried Freezer Cooking yet? Try it! You won't go back to those harried weeknight dinner times, I swear. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pondering: Is A Cash-Only System the Way to Go?


I'll admit it: I'm terrible with money. I always have been. And even in spite of my attempts to manage my money better, I'm still terrible. Confession: I LOVE spending money. It doesn't even matter what it's being spent on, most of the time. I like to shop, I like to buy things, I like to have things. I'm sure there's some psycho-analytical reason for all of this, but I've never had it evalutated. Maybe I should.

When I was in college especially, I would say, "I'm too young to worry about money", and I would spend every cent my parents sent me. Then the next week when another check came in the mail, I would do the same thing.

Now that I'm older (wiser?) and have a dual-income household to manage, that way of life is long gone. But I'm still not managing things very well. I use my debit card for everything, and claim to keep a running tally in my head, but I'm really not that great at math. I've been burned living this way many times, and Wells Fargo is loving having me as a customer, I'm sure.

So where does that leave me? Pondering going cash-only, that's where that leaves me. But is that the way to go? I know there are more than a few financial "gurus" out there who claim that it is the only way to go, but will it work for me? Maybe I should challenge myself to not use my debit card for a month, and only use the cash that's in my pocket. That would certainly be an interesting blog series!

I'm thinking what I might try is this: pay bills out of each paycheck, then withdraw cash for everything else. Things such as groceries, gas, eating out, etc. would all be paid for with cash. I'll have to do more research on the Envelope system.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle your family's budget?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Typography Tuesday: Font Addict


I mentioned in my blog last week about how much I love Typography. Fonts, fonts and more fonts, I love them all. If you're a font addict like me, there are lots of great sites to get free fonts for you to have as your very own. Be careful, though. Make sure you read the terms for each font you download; I wouldn't want anyone to be sued for using and selling a product using a font that was only meant for personal use.

My favorite font sites:
There are countless others, but you'll probably just get stuck on dafont.com for hours, so I won't make a huge list.

In order to use all of the fonts that I have collected over the years - and I really should count them - I've recently been trying to come up with new ways (for me) to use fonts. I've embroidered with different fonts, but I just don't have much time for embroidery these days, so I've moved on to die-cutting and print. I've been personalizing different items using adhesive vinyl and my Pazzles die-cutting machine. There are lots of other people doing this same thing, so I'm trying to make myself stand out a bit by using fonts maybe not everyone is using.

This font is Ziggy Zoe, one that I found out there on a free font site, and thought it would be great on water bottles. It is. I've sold a ton of these things! Now if I could only get them back in stock...

I've also ventured into print a little bit, inspired of course, by Pinterest. Last week I featured my "I Love You Because..." print, and this week I have a slight variation:


It's a good daily reminder of what you are grateful for, making you think of something new every day. I know I need to be reminded sometimes, and seemingly a lot more lately. It's dry erase, so that makes it easy to change it up each day.

So, I'm going to keep playing with my fonts, and looking for great examples and more inspiration. Be sure to check back next Tuesday and every Tuesday for more Typography!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Duh, Pinning.


It is true. I can't.stop.pinning. I pin at work, I pin at home, I pin on the go. It's ridiculous. I'm an addict. I can't help myself.


There is always new stuff on Pinterest, and I want to make sure I see it all. New recipes, new crafty ideas, new funny photos...the list goes on. My favorite categories are DIY/Crafts (obviously), Recipes, and Kids. There are so many great ideas and so much inspiration all in one place it's almost overwhelming.

Here are some of my recent Pinterest favorites:


I love Star Wars humor.


This original idea was for storing scrapbook materials (stickers, specifically), but I think it would be great to use in the kitchen, to hold all of the recipe printouts that I've found on Pinterest. A Spinning Cookbook. Oh, I better copyright that. Spinning Cookbook © <-- and I totally just googled how to make that symbol. 

Baked Penne Pasta. I had this for dinner just last night and it was yummy! I made it ahead as part of my Freezer Cooking Plan last week; took it out of the freezer yesterday morning and baked it for dinner. I liked it, the kids liked it, we'll be having it again!

So, that's what I've been pinning. What have you found lately?

A Day in the Life of a Working Mommy


My typical weekday looks a little something like this:
  • 4:30am: Husband's alarm goes off; he's out the door in 15 minutes flat.
  • 6:30am: Alarm goes off
  • 6:39am: Snooze alarm goes off
  • 6:45am: Feet hit the floor, and I'm up and running...or, sort of.
  • 6:50am: Jump in the shower before the 2-year old wakes up, otherwise forget the shower
  • 7:00am: Out of the shower, waking up children
  • 7:05am: Getting dressed, waking up children
  • 7:15am: Argue with 5-year old about wardrobe selections while trying to convince 2-year old to get a diaper change and get dressed.
  • 7:30am: Tracking down shoes, while feeding dog, letting dog out and hopefully back in, getting snacks, juice boxes, and mommy-juice (aka coffee)
  • 7:45am: Out the door, in the car
  • 7:55am: Drop 2-year old off at school, try to avoid altercations in the super-tiny parking lot
  • 7:58am: Convince 5-year old that Mommy's tired of the Backyardigans cd, listen to something else.
  • 8:20am: Drop off 5-year old at different school
  • 8:30-8:45am: In the office.
  • 8:50am: Rest, enjoy the peace and quiet of the early morning office and coffee.
  • 9:00am: Work, work, work.
  • 6:00pm: Out of office, in the car
  • 6:20pm: Pick up 5-year old from school
  • 6:25pm: Car snacks and discussion of the day with 5-year old
  • 6:45pm: Home
  • 6:46pm: Routine tackle-hugs by 2-year old
  • 7:00pm: Dinner (on a good day)
  • 7:15pm: Convince children vegetables are necessary, and that we can't always have chicken nuggets (daily battle)
  • 7:55pm: Cleanup
  • 8:00pm: Kids Bath/Jammies/Cuddles/Storytime
  • 8:30pm: Bedtime
  • 8:35pm: Mommy/Daddy TV/blogging/crafting time
  • 10:00pm: Off to bed to start all over again in the morning
Wow. I've never written it all out before Scary stuff. I'm fortunate in that I have a very flexible employer where I don't have to dress professionally everyday. If I had to fit in trips to the dry cleaner or finding matching heels and stockings everyday, I'd be in serious trouble.

What's your day like?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Ultimate Blog Challenge - Again


I've kind of gotten bad about blogging in the last couple of months, so I decided to challenge myself to keep up with things a little better. I enjoy writing, but it seems to have fallen by the wayside lately as I keep adding things to my neverending to-do list. So, for the month of October, I've joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge - 31 days of blogging, or one post everyday. If you've been following along, you may remember that I've done this once before, back in April. I didn't quite make the 31 posts in 31 days, but I was pretty darn close. This time around, my goal is to make it all the way. I know I can do it!

I do have some plans to try to keep it interesting around here: Freezer Cooking Fridays is one new series I've started. Take a look at the first post in the series and you'll see what I'm talking about. I've also started Typography Tuesdays recently. It's fun to have a day of the week tied in with specific posts. It makes it kind of easy to figure out what to write about! The first post was done on a Thursday, but it will be moving to Tuesdays starting this week. Stay tuned!

There will also be product updates, what's new in my shop, recipes, and tutorials posted over the next month, so please check back and see what I'm up to!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Freezer Cooking Fridays

I decided to start a new little feature here on the ol' blog: Freezer Cooking Fridays. I've talked about Freezer Cooking, or Cooking Ahead, before, and I've become a huge fan of it. It's so easy to get a bunch of meals planned and prepped and stashed in the freezer, then have them ready to go on a busy weeknight. And let's face it, is there ever a weeknight that's not busy? Not in our house. Both my husband and I work full time, and we have two small children who are in school all day. By the time we're all home, we barely have enough time to get dinner on the table and the kids bathed before it's time for bed. Who wants to cook? Not me.

Enter freezer cooking. Some people do a month's worth of meals ahead of time, but I'm not that organized. Plus I don't have enough space in my freezer for all of that, plus the giant bags of chicken nuggets and fishsticks that are staples. I generally prepare enough meals for about 2 weeks...or whatever I have time to whip up after the kids are in bed.

Here's the plan: every week I'll feature what I have prepared in the previous week and have in the freezer. Not necessarily a menu (again, not that organized), but just a list, and maybe it'll inspire some of you out there to try it. I know you all are busy too, and I can't thank you enough for stopping in and reading!

This week, I started with 5 pounds of ground beef, and 6 pounds of giant boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I love Sam's Club. On Tuesday night I started with the ground beef. Here was my plan:


I knew I wouldn't have time to do the chicken and ground beef in one night, so I'm planning on doing the chicken this weekend.

From the ground beef, I made:
  • 1 batch of enchiladas (recipe coming!)
  • 2 batches (entrees) of No Boil Baked Penne - the recipe calls for a 9x13 pan, but I split it into 2-8x8 pans.
  • 2 pounds of taco meat - ground beef seasoned with Old El Paso taco seasoning. We eat tacos A LOT
  • 1 pound uncooked meat that was supposed to be Cheeseburger Meatloaf, but it was 10:30pm and I still had cleaning up to do, so I skipped it and froze the uncooked meat.
This weekend I'll be working on the chicken side of things. The plan, as shown above, is:
  • Teriyaki Marinated Chicken - I made my own teriyaki sauce a few weeks ago from a recipe in Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. This cookbook is my main inspiration for freezer cooking. You should check it out!
  • Crockpot Salsa Chicken (recipe coming soon!)
  • Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing - I haven't figured out how I'm going to make this ahead yet. More details to come...
  • Cheddar & Cracker Chicken - this looks super yummy and I can't wait to try it!
I"ll post the missing recipes soon, and will continue to feature different recipes each week to help you on your way to a stocked freezer. Be sure to stop in next week for more freezer cooking fun!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Typography Thursday


Well, Typography Tuesday might sound better, but since it's Thursday, I'm going with that. Maybe in the future I'll actually plan posts instead of posting willy-nilly. One can hope, right? But, I digress.

I've always been a fan of typography. I love love love all of the font sites such as dafont.com where you can download any number of fonts of all kinds for free, or for a small donation. I'm a self-proclaimed font geek. I have so many in my collection that sometimes I don't even know where to start! But I still want more..

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Typography is "the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible." I believe it really is an art, and once upon a time when I was pursuing a degree in Graphic Design (never finished), the typography courses were my favorite.

I've recently rediscovered playing with fonts, and come up with a few fun prints that I thought I would put out there and see what the internet at large thinks. The first is an idea I've seen on Pinterest, and I thought I would give it my own touch. Just a simple print framed behind glass that can be used as a dry erase board to write in your own sentiment.


Cute, right? What a great gift to give to a new couple on their wedding day. These are available in any color you choose, and listed in the shop now.

This idea came to me after listening to "Someone Like You" by Adele a few times. I thought it might be fun on a postcard, or a card to give someone when you're breaking up, or when you've been dumped. Don't ask where my thoughts come from; I couldn't tell you. Or, maybe you just really like the song...


I really just wanted to use these colors and this part of the song. I haven't made this print into anything yet, but if you're interested, just let me know what you'd like!

So, that's what I've been working on. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pinterest: Be Warned, It's Addictive

Have you discovered Pinterest? If you haven't, you must go there. Now. Go on, I'll wait.

You're back? Good. See what I mean? There are SO MANY great ideas on there that I think I could literally spend days and days going through it all. Artwork, party ideas, quotes, recipes (OMG, the recipes!), crafty things, the list goes on and on. I love Pinterest because it's easy to keep everything that looks great to me all in one place. If I see a recipe I want to try, I just "pin it" to my recipes board so I can easily go back to it later. It sure beats bookmarking every little thing, or even worse, printing it out and then trying to find that paper later.

And it's not just ON Pinterest that you can pin things. You can install a handy little button on your browser menu bar so you can pin anything, no matter what site you're on. I.Love.It. And I'm an addict. It doesn't help that you can also get a Pinterest App. It's true. I use it.

I'm still on the fence about it, but I believe that Pinterest can also be used as a marketing tool. You don't want to constantly pin your own things, but I think that every now and then, like if you have a product you've created that you are really excited about, go ahead and pin it. I don't know how effective it is, but what could it hurt? Get your stuff out there. But again, don't go crazy with it. The Pinterest Etiquette states: "...try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion." If you have enough readers on your blog or in your shop, chances are it would be pinned anyway.

So, what have you been pinning?

Want to see what I've been up to? Follow my pins.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Frosted Mason Jar Luminaries


I'm obsessed. There, I admitted it. I'm still going crazy with mason jars! The latest idea just sort of came to me; why not frost a mason jar to use as a luminary? And, why not add personalization? So, here we have a Frosted Mason Jar Luminary, personalized! On the first jar I did, I only used a single letter for personalization. Then I had a custom order through my Etsy shop for a full monogram, which is pictured above. I think I love that even more than the single letter! I fell in love immediately.

If you want to do it yourself, it's super easy. All you need is a mason jar, or an old spaghetti sauce/pickle/canning/whateverkindofjar, Frosted Glass Spray Paint (found at your local hardware store or Walmart),a tea light candle or LED tea light, and a way to monogram/personalize. I used my Pazzles die cut machine to cut out vinyl lettering, but you could also use paint, or good old fashioned glue and construction paper. I also used flat black spray paint to paint the ring of the lid to make it all matchy-matchy.

I'll try to put up a full tutorial with pictures and everything very soon, but that list should get you started! Have fun!

The picture above has an LED tea light in it. I just love the glow, and it even flickers a bit like a real candle would. So cute!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jar Crazy: Mason Jar Luminaries


It's no longer a secret: I've gone jar crazy. It all started with the Redneck Wine Glasses. They're so simple yet so much fun! I've been making the glasses for a little while, and I've recently been thinking 'What ELSE can I do with these jars?'

Enter the internet and Pinterest. I'm also now addicted to Pinterest, but that's another blog post (coming soon!). I was browsing around and found that lots of crafty people have been making glass jar luminaries. Brilliant! Of course I had to try it. I'm trying to get a head start on holiday crafting, so I started with Halloween. The pic above is my result: Halloween Luminaries!

The process is very simple. All you need is a glass jar - I used quart size plain jars from Walmart, mod podge, tissue paper, and a foam brush. A lot of the tutorials I've seen out there say to cut the tissue paper into strips. That's a good way to do it, but I wasn't entirely happy with the way it came out. You can kind of see the strips on the Frankenstein luminary above. I decided to try one large piece of tissue paper applied to the jar all at once. I liked it much better, as it appears a little more seamless - that one was the orange jack o'lantern above. When I was finished and everything was completely dry, I just plopped a tea light in the jars to light them up, and voila!

I'll do a full tutorial soon, with pictures and everything, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I'll have to write down all of these luminary ideas I now have swirling around in my head.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheeseburger Meatloaf - The Recipe

-- Photo Courtesy of MoneySavingMom --

Cheeseburger Meatloaf


1 lb. ground beef
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup uncooked regular oats (I had to substitute crushed Ritz crackers - still yummy!)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. minced onion (I used chopped raw onion)
1 large egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 dry mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup chili sauce (I substituted barbecue sauce instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl; stir just until blended. Shape mixture into a loaf, and place in an ungreased 8×4-inch loafpan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour chili sauce over meat loaf, and bake 40 more minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and cut into 8 slices.

To freeze: If you used meat that had not yet been frozen, you can freeze this uncooked. When you’re ready to eat, thaw, and follow the instructions above for cooking.

If your meat had already been frozen, bake without chili sauce on top. Freeze. When you’re ready to eat, thaw meatloaf. Pour chili sauce (or BBQ sauce) on top and heat in oven until hot.

---> Shannon's Note -> Freezer Packaging: Form into loaf, then wrap in plastic wrap. Wrap again in foil, label, and toss in the freezer.


-- Recipe and photo courtesy of Money Saving Mom


My First Attempt at Freezer Cooking - And Not the Last!

--Photo Courtesy of DailyDishRecipes 

Freezer cooking. Have you tried it? A few months ago I decided I would give it a go and see what it's all about. I had read about it on sites such as Money Saving Mom and Once a Month Mom, and was intrigued. You mean I can prepare and/or cook a bunch of meals in one day and then throw them in the freezer for later? Then on a busy weeknight just throw something in the oven and be done? I'm in.

I actually didn't even go overboard on this project - shocker I know. I decided that I would buy a cookbook and look online, pick out a few recipes, then prepare enough meals for a week's worth of dinners. I did a bit of research and found Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer on Amazon, used some Amazon gift cards I got from Swagbucks, and poof! it was at my door in a couple of days. Have I mentioned lately that I love Amazon? Anyway...As soon as I received the book I was going through and making lists; tons of great recipes that even my kids would eat. Cheesy Chicken Bundles? Done. Hawaiian Chicken in the Crockpot? You betcha. There's even a recipe for Teriyaki Sauce that looks good, but I still need to make.

So I did my shopping, hit Sam's Club for the huge trays of ground beef and chicken breasts, the regular grocery store for the fill-in ingredients and I was ready. I temporarily misplaced my camera, so I didn't get any pictures, but here's a list of what I prepared:
  • 2 pounds of taco meat (browned ground beef with taco seasoning)
  • 2 loaves of Cheeseburger Meatloaf (check "Recipes" page for details)
  • 1 Hawaiian Chicken Crockpot dish - just need to thaw it and throw it in the crockpot - done!
  • 8 or 10 (I forget) Cheesy Chicken Bundles - probably enough for 2 meals, the way the kids eat
  • About 2 dozen meatballs - and I LOVE meatballs, so this will just be enough for one meal
All in all, I have about 8 meals ready and waiting in my freezer, and I did this all on a Sunday afternoon. There was very little cooking involved, thankfully - really the only cooking I did was the ground beef for tacos. Everything else I just prepared, packaged, and tossed in the freezer. Love it! Now all I have to do is figure out what we're having when, take it out of the freezer to thaw, then pop it in the oven. Dinner's ready! I love making taco filling ahead of time; all I have to do is warm up the meat, set up the taco toppings, and dinner's ready in about 5 minutes. Perfect.

If you're new to Freezer Cooking, or Once a Month or Week Cooking, I highly recommend Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. There are lots of other books out there on the subject, and excellent blogs and ideas online, but this is the book I used. They explain in great detail the best way to package the meals for the freezer, and all of the recipes sound yummy.

I'll post the recipe for the Cheeseburger Meatloaf right after this one. Its SO yum. You'll love it.

In my research for this post, I also found Daily Dish Recipes, and am totally in love. I'll be doing lots of recipe-printing in a few minutes!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pink Christmas in July - This Saturday!


If you're looking for something fun to do this Saturday in Atlanta, come see me at the Pink Christmas in July Craft Show! There are lots of great vendors, and 10% percent of everyone's proceeds will go towards the Breast Cancer 3-Day here in Atlanta! What a great way to knock out some early Christmas shopping and support a great cause all at the same time. You can't go wrong! Plus, there will be prizes given away throughout the day.

There is a small donation/entrance fee of $2.50 for all attendees. For more information, go here.

See you there!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pick Your Plum: Iron-On Vinyl at 50% Off


Today's Pick Your Plum Deal is a great one if you're into vinyl! And I have to admit, I'm into it. I'm an addict. Adhesive vinyl and my Cricut make me want to personalize everything and anything. It's almost ridiculous. Have you seen my laptop? But I digress...

Today's deal is Iron-On Vinyl at 50% off. You can't beat that! For $7.50 you get three 9x15 sheets of iron-on vinyl that can be cut with your craft cutter (Cricut, Silhouette, etc), scissors or an exact-o knife. Cut it out and iron it on. It's that easy! You'll receive one sheet in each of the following colors: Boiling Black, Toasty Turquoise, and Glowing Gray.

Decorate pillows, tote bags, t-shirts, skirts, shorts, whatever your little heart desires. My little brain is already bubbling over with ideas. Personalize your own stuff instead of paying someone else to do it (ahem- if you'd rather pay someone else, check out my shop!).

Get this deal while it's hot, there is a limited quantity. I can't wait to play with mine! I'll be sure to post what I've done once I have it in my hot little hands.

Go here to take a peek!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monogrammed Tumblers - New!

Have you seen these tumblers? I LOVE them! I remember seeing them last summer at a certain well-known coffee shop, but of course they had the shop's logo on them. I thought, oh, those are cute, but I didn't necessarily want the logo. Fast forward to this past Spring/Summer. These tumblers are popping up all over the crafty world with monograms and many other fun designs, and now we're bringing them to you!

These are double-walled insulated acrylic tumblers with a straw included. I absolutely love my tumbler because it doesn't sweat when I'm toting around a tasty iced beverage. The tumblers hold 16 ounces, which is just the right size for a Grande Iced Mocha at the aforementioned coffee shop. And of course the reusable straw is included!

If you're looking for a great gift, this is perfect. Just slip a gift card inside the cup, stick it in a gift bag and you're good to go.

So far the Vine Monogram font has been the most popular, but other fonts are available as well. I really like this one, it just looks nice. 

I'm stocked up on tumblers and have another shipment coming in soon, so if you need one, check out the listing in the shop!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pick Your Plum: Awesome New Daily Deal Site for Crafters!

If you're not familiar with Pick Your Plum, you're missing out. Pick Your Plum is a great new daily deal site for the crafty set, offering supplies and projects at great prices.

From their website:
It's in our blood.
Have you ever glued your fingers together trying to put a project together? Stayed up all night just to finish that last project before your kids wake up? Gussied up your home just so the neighbors could gawk over your detail? Borrowed an idea from the store knowing you can make one too?
We have. We know. Join us.
Get it before your neighbor does:
*We have limited supplies on some of the most swank supplies. We have agents out in the field who find killer deals on high quality products.
*We delicately slap prim-o crafting supplies on our site at a stellar price!
*We sell it 'til it's gone or 'til time is up.
*You leave feeling like you just won Martha in a crafting contest.
*The supplies arrive in 7-8 shipping days and you've just picked your 'plum'! Doesn't it feel good?
Sign up for Instant Alerts so you always know The Deal. But don't blame us if you overdose. We only sell products we would use ourselves. We enjoy quality.
Don't miss out on another deal! See below for today's offering: Grosgrain Ribbon. I'm all over this one.

Pick Your Plum Deal for Wednesday 6/22:



Cotton Candy Grosgrain Ribbon. It's 70% off!
- 16 yards of grosgrain ribbon coming in at $0.28/yard!
- Make a ribbon wreath, decorate a flip flop, make a bow, fancy up that present, sew on a shirt, the list goes on. At 70% off it will add some sugar to that project.
- Each order contains 2 yards of each of the following:
  • Jolly Berry Blue (5/8 inch plain and 1/4 inch dots)
  • Silly Nilly Pink (5/8 inch plain and 1/4 inch dots)
  • Sassy Apple Green (5/8 inch plain and 1/4 inch dots)
  • Orange Orange (5/8 inch plain and 1/4 inch dots)

 Fine Print: Shipping is $3.50 if you order one or if you order the max amount. Sweetness to the shipping costs!

Canada add $5.00 and a bunch of shipping days (as soon as the strike is over we will ship you goodies).

Today is June 22, 2011

750 available - But going fast! Get yours now..

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Spy Bags - Finally!


I've been talking about I Spy Bags now for what seems like a year. Well, I finally have some to show off! Never heard of an I Spy Bag? They're bags made of fleece or fabric filled with poly pellets and little buttons or trinkets. Kids can manipulate the pellets through the bag to move things around and see what all is in there. Keeps little fingers busy!


 In my I spy Bags, I add fun buttons, colorful little stones, beads, and whatever else I might find that would be fun for a child to find. I also add letter beads that spell out various phrases, or I can make a name if you choose. For example, on my "Go Green" bag (above), I added the prase "Go Green". Silly, I know.


These bags are made from super soft fleece, but regular cotton fabric could be used as well. If you wanted to make a bag of your very own, check out Katie's tutorial over on Little Monkeys. In case you're wondering about the bags pictured above with the circle window, I did those on my embroidery machine instead of a regular sewing machine. You could achieve the same effect on a sewing machine, you just have to have a satin or zig-zag stitch, and be able to sew really good circles. :)

Or, if you just want to take the easy way out, you can check out what I have to offer in my shop. The bags pictured above are available now! More patterns and designs will be added soon.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Catching Up...



My my my, it's been a while! I haven't forgotten about my readers, I've just been busy. And I am in no way complaining! I did squeeze in a vacation, and I had actually intended to blog while I was on vacation, but that just never happened. I guess I was just too busy relaxing!


So, in the coming weeks, you'll be seeing more of me here and there, with some new goodies to put in the shop, some new projects, and more yummy brownie goodness. I think I'm personally most excited about more stuffed brownies than anything else!


Stay with me...and thanks for reading!



...And just because I'm a fan of putting pictures in every post, the picture above is where we were on Vacation: St Simons Island, Ga. Love that place!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Introducing: The "Fancy" Redneck Wine Glass!

If you're looking for something a little fancier than the Original Redneck Wine Glass, or perhaps a Redneck Champagne Glass, this is for you. The "quilted crystal" look on this jar will add that little extra sparkle to your backporch dinner party or bar! Or as a friend described it, it will add "glitz and glamour" when you're getting your drink on.

I just love these glasses; they're so much fun! At the Kirkwood Spring Fling this past weekend, I sold all but one.

So, if you're looking for gifts that are a little different, Redneck Wine Glasses are your answer. Bulk orders are welcome! Just let me know how many you need and I'd be more than happy to work out a deal.

Go here to purchase!


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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up - Thank You and Festival Recovery

If you came by the booth at the Kirkwood Spring Fling, thank you for visiting! Everything that was at the booth will be listed in the shop soon, including more Redneck Wine Glasses. If you're looking for the Kids' Aprons/Toolbelts, crayon rolls, or crayon tote bags, check out Katie's shop, Happy2Knit. As a special thank you, use the code "Kirkwood10" at checkout in my Etsy shop to receive 10% off your purchase! Now back to regularly scheduled blogging...


Wow, what a weekend. Yesterday, Saturday, I had a booth at the Kirkwood Spring Fling. I was the first festival I had done in a year and a half, and boy-o, I forgot how much work it could be! First you have to find a festival or artist market where you think your work or craft might fit in. Then you have to apply, and wait to be accepted. Once accepted, the fun really starts. You have to make sure you have enough inventory to last the day (or two, depending). I always go with the idea that it's better to have too much than not enough. Well, yesterday Katie and I had tons of stuff, and we sold a bunch, too. That's definitely a good thing. But even just sitting there all day, in the Georgia heat, chatting with people, working on the display repeatedly; its exhausting. Maybe I'm just getting old? It was a large-ibuprofen-before-bedtime kind of night, that's for sure.

Anyway, like I said, it was a great day. My partner-in-crime/sister-in-law Katie couldn't be with me, so I was by myself in working the booth all day. I stayed busy, forunately, but I didn't have much of a chance to walk around and see what other cool stuff was at the festival.

Today, Sunday, I'm just taking it easy. It's my recovery day! I've been working hard the last few weeks to prepare, so now I'm taking a bit of a break. Well, by break I mean I won't be crafting every night after bedtime, just enough to fill current orders from my Etsy shop.

Now I think i'll take a nap...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where to Buy - Kirkwood Spring Fling, May 14


If you're in or around Atlanta this weekend looking for something to do, you should check out the 9th Annual Kirkwood Spring Fling and Tour of Homes! There will be an open air Artist Market, live music, a children's area, and of course, festival food!

There's also the Tour of Homes featuring classic Victorian Cottages, Craftsman Bungalows, and more.

Oh, and did I mention that Drivin' N' Cryin' is the music headliner for the festival? That's huge!

If you do come out, be sure and stop in and see me and check out all of the goodies I'll have available. You've seen most of them here on the blog, but there may be some other things you haven't seen...you just never know. I'll be in Booth #64, so make sure you say Hello!

Also cross your fingers that it doesn't rain. :)

The festival is located in and around Bessie Branham Park in the historic Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta. Close to East Atlanta Village, Little 5 Points, Oakhurst and Decatur.

For directions and more information check out the website. Hope to see you there!