Tae Kwan Do {And a Menu}

The hooligans started Tae Kwan Do last October, and since then, they’ve earned four new belts, the last just last night.  We couldn’t be prouder of them…they’ve all become much more focused and responsible, and we credit Tae Kwan Do with the transformation. So today I’m sharing a couple of scrapbook pages I made after their test for High Purple belts in April. Then the menu follows, if you’re here for that!


And now our week’s menu:

  • Monday:  Taco Salad and Fresh Pineapple
  • Tuesday:  Teriyaki Meatballs with Steamed Rice and Snow Peas
  • Wednesday:  Grilled Marinated Chicken, Grilled Asparagus, and Potato Salad
  • Thursday:  Mediterranean Shrimp with Orzo and Cucumbers with Rice Vinegar
  • Friday:  Skeen Burgers with Kale Chips and Baked Beans

For the Teriyaki Meatballs, make regular meatballs (or use frozen), pour some teriyaki sauce on them, and bake. Skeen Burgers are an old family favorite from Cooking Light magazine, years ago.  They have Ritz crackers, applesauce, and onion soup mix in them. Seriously good eatin’, people!

Simple Screen Time System

During the school year, we follow the “No Screen Time Rule” Monday through Thursday, then the kids get an hour each of the weekend days (counting Friday).  As first Spring Break arrived, and now with the approach of summer vacation, I wanted a more visual system for them to follow, rather than me being the time police.

My favorite GI Joe and I decided that two hours per day was reasonable, including iPads, DS, Wii, or watching TV. Family movie night, going to a movie as a family, and e-reading would be exceptions.  And there’s no rollover to the next day. The hubs says I’m more strict than cell phone companies. I disagree.

But how to get them to take responsibility for their time?  Well, they love our magnetic chore chart, so I thought something similar would be great. It took all of five minutes to punch out some circles and attach magnets.  I had a metal tile in my craft stash, but you can buy them at craft stores or even the hardware store. I ran a piece of washi tape down the center to divide it, and was finished.


We have a plate rack in the kitchen that holds our family calendars and the cafeteria menu (during the school year). I simply replaced the menu with the screen time board.

It seemed to work well during spring break, so now we’ll see how the summer goes. Of course, they were shocked at first to see how quickly their tokens moved from top to bottom, but I think it made them a lot more cognizant of their choices about how to spend their time. Yeah, you’re right…talk to me in September, when we’ve survived a cross-country move and being homeless for six weeks!


Later, ‘Gator Contact Info Gummi Packs

Well, that’s a catchy title for a post, huh?  But it gets the info conveyed, so it’s okay, I guess.

So here’s my last post (for this year) about end-of-school gifts…these little packs of gummis will be a perfect way for my kids to give their friends our contact info in Washington, since we won’t be seeing them when school starts in the fall.


These are pretty quick to come together…the only thing I had to plan in advance was ordering the gummi alligators, since I couldn’t easily find them locally. I found a five pound bag on Amazon for around $25, including shipping.  The ziploc bags are from the jewelry making section of the craft store.  Gator-Bowl

We put 6 alligators in each bag, and had more than enough for the three classes…we made 75 in all. Gator-Fillin-ChaosServedDaiFor the tags, I created this cute clipart for the front, and typed our contact info (name, address, phone, email, and website) on the back.  Be sure the front and back are going opposite directions, so when you fold them, the printing is right-side-up on both front and back. See what I mean, below?  I scribbled out most of our info, in case you thought I’d lost my mind, while editing the photo.Gator-Sheet-ChaosServedDail

Here’s the clipart, if you’d like to download it.  Just click on the photo to download. I used an alligator image from the Gator Crossing Element Pack from Katie Pertiet.

Later Gator Tag

I made my sheet of bag toppers in using Photoshop Elements, but you can probably do it in Paint or another program such as those.

It’s a fine line we tread with the kids each time we move.  We want them to be excited about the adventure ahead, but still recognize that they’re leaving behind lots of friends.  This move is different from any other we’ve done because we’ve been living “on the economy”,,,away from any military post…for the first time. When leaving a military town, we always say, “See you later” instead of “Goodbye,” because we often run into our military friends again and again as assignments cross paths.

The hubs and I realize that this time will be a real goodbye to friends we’ve made in Wisconsin, because they’re all permanent residents here and don’t follow this crazy nomadic military lifestyle.  I’m pretty sure the kids don’t get that. But maybe that’s for the best. And, who knows, maybe our friends from Wisconsin will have a hankering to visit the Northwest and drop by to see us…or at least email or write! They have no excuse not to, with these packets!


Word Play….Another Retiring Set {sniff}

Word Play is one of the sets I really hate to see retire, because it contains some of my favorite sayings for cards or gifts. I have lots of birthday and thanks stamps, but the other stamps in this set cover so many other occasions.  Untitled-12 I made this cute card using it, along with an embossing folder and my favorite (Martha Stewart…shh!) border punch.  I just love those little birds on a wire!


I used the Framed Tulips embossing folder before I punched the birds, so they have some texture on them.  I thought it was a nice detail.

Other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward card.  Here’s my supply list:

Stampin’ Up! supplies:  Word Play stamp set; Small Heart punch; Whisper White, Basic Grey, and Certainly Celery cardstock; Neutral and Brights DSP Collections; Framed Tulips Embossing Folder. Non-SU!:  Birds on a Wire Border Punch

So remember, Certainly Celery and the Word Play stamp set (Item 120651) are both on the retiring list, so you only have until June 3 to order them, if you need them!


May Books of the Month

I heard someone say the other day, “I think I’m busier this time of year than I am at the holidays.” I would have to agree…with spring concerts, field trips, graduations, and this little move two thousand miles back across the country, I’ve hardly had time to crack a book this month. But I did squeeze in a few, just to share!

The Light Keeper's Legacy

The Light Keeper’s Legacy by Kathleen Ernst

I craved cherry pie the whole time I was reading this mystery, set on Rock Island in Wisconsin’s Door County. The hubs and I escaped there for a weekend in the fall, and it was charming. I really, really enjoyed this book, written by a author who has actually lived in Wisconsin, worked as a historian, and even served as a docent at the Rock Island lighthouse.

The mystery kept me guessing pretty much until the end, and the writing truly painted a picture in my mind of the setting. Read it, by all means, if you’re looking for a mystery!

Here’s what the Goodreads info says:

Solitude at last! Museum curator Chloe Ellefson leaps at the opportunity to be a consultant for the historic lighthouse restoration project on Rock Island, a state park in Wisconsin’s scenic Door County. Hoping to leave her personal and professional problems at home, Chloe’s tranquility is suddenly spoiled when a dead woman washes ashore. Determined to find answers behind the mystery, Chloe dives into research about the island’s history and discovers the amazing, resilient women who once lived there. But will the link between the past and present turn out to be a beacon of hope or a portent of doom?

The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I love Kate Morton’s books, and this one definitely did not disappoint.  Here’s the synopsis…judge for yourself!

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.


Hush by Kate White

Don’t judge me. This was escapism and fabulous!  I read another by her a couple of months ago, and this one was just as readable.  It kept me up all night, finishing it.  If you need a book to read on vacation, this makes a great choice.

The blurb:

When Lake Warren learns that her husband, Jack, is suing for full custody of their two kids four months after their separation, she’s pretty certain that things can’t get any worse. The upside is that she’s working with the Advanced Fertility Center as a marketing consultant, alongside the attractive, flirtatious Dr. Keaton. But the morning after their one-night stand, Lake finds Keaton with his throat slashed and discovers that things can indeed become worse–they can become deadly.
So as not to jeopardize her case for custody, Lake is forced to lie to the police. Having just been intimate with a man who has been murdered, and wanting to protect herself from being charged with the crime, she begins her own search for the truth. Meanwhile, the police start looking at her closely, people at the clinic start treating her with hostility, and strange clues begin dropping–quite literally–on her doorstep, and Lake realizes that she is dangerously close to dark secrets, both about Keaton and the clinic. But can Lake stop what she’s started before it’s too late?

I’m currently reading Under the Dome by Stephen King, hoping to finish before the television series starts in late June. Then I’m going to start on the Game of Thrones series, because I haven’t watched it yet, wanting to read it first.  I know, I have a problem. But I also have lots of time this summer without a home, much less a DVR for my shows!

How about you?  Do you use your summer to catch up on great literature, or give your brain a break and read beach books? 



{Copycat} Backyard BBQ Salad & a Menu

In my opinion, salads with meat are one of the best summer meal inventions ever.  I grew up eating taco salad, but in recent years (okay, for like the last fifteen years), every restaurant offers a salad with chicken, beef, or seafood.  I’m not a huge lover of green salads as a side dish, but I love the combination of protein and vegetables. I know, I could just spear some salad then some meat on my fork, but it’s just not the same.

Anyway, last summer Noodles and Co. offered a Backyard BBQ Salad that was, frankly, an addiction for me. Thus far, they’ve not reintroduced it, so I’ve been forced to recreate it at home. Fortunately, it’s super easy and required very little culinary thought. And I usually use leftovers in it, which is a bonus!

First, though, here’s our menu for the week:

  • Monday:  BBQ Chicken Sliders, Sweet Potato Puffs (Alessi), Sliced Cucumbers and Tomatoes
  • Tuesday:  Chicken Fried Rice, Spring Rolls (from Costco), and Edamame
  • Wednesday:  Fish and Chips and Asian Slaw
  • Thursday:  Teriyaki Beef Skewers, Grilled Corn on the Cob, and Grilled Peppers and Onions
  • Friday:  Backyard BBQ Salad and Mini Ciabatta Rolls with Olive Oil for dipping

For the BBQ chicken sliders and salad, cook six boneless chicken breasts, covered in your favorite BBQ sauce (or make this one), for 5 to 6 hours on low, then shred. For sliders, serve on mini ciabatta rolls with shredded cheese and lettuce.  Refrigerate leftovers for BBQ Salad.

To grill corn on the cob, just throw the ears (with husks) on the grill, rotate 1/4 turn every 5 minutes for 20 minutes until done. If your corn is already shucked, wrap each ear in foil and then grill. You can also cook them in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cook extra so you’ll have leftovers for the salad.


Copycat Backyard BBQ Salad

(serves 6)

  • 2 cups shredded BBQ chicken
  • 3 ears of corn, roasted and cut off the cob
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing (we use fat free)
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce

On plates, divide lettuce.  Top with chicken, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Combine Ranch and BBQ sauce in a small bowl, and drizzle over salad.

See, I told you it was easy. The whole family loves this meal…it really is like a backyard barbeque in a bowl! (And I don’t think any of them even realize I’m using leftovers and cleaning out the frig!)


School’s Out S’Mores Buckets

Yep, it’s almost that time…summer time, no school, moving across the country.  Oh, wait, that last one is just us. Anyway, you know I won’t let the kids go to school on the last day without some gift for their teachers. We gave these S’Mores Buckets last year, as well, and I think they’re the perfect way to say, “Enjoy your summer!”


They take only minutes to assemble…if you’d like, you could wrap the ingredients in some patterned paper, bakers’ twine, or your favorite gift wrap, but the kids were making these, so we kept it simple. We bought the buckets and roasting sticks at the dollar store, then picked up marshmallows, graham squares, and chocolate bars at the grocery store.   In each bucket, we put a bag of marshmallows, 3 packs of graham squares, and 4 chocolate bars, along with two roasting sticks. In all, about $5 per bucket, including the bucket.


We downloaded some summer subway art from Two Yellow Birds and resized it to print six to a page.  After cutting each out and matting on cardstock, we wrote a thank you on the back and used curling ribbon to attach the tags to the bucket.

Like I said, it took about 10 minutes to assemble five of these. Then we headed outside to eat the leftover bucket ingredients! Waste not, want not and all that.



“Keep In Touch” Seed Packets

I have another cute idea for the end of school, especially for families that are moving cross-country (like us!). And it couldn’t be simpler, y’all.  Especially since I already have 200 family info cards from when we lived in our house two years ago…yep, the same one we’re moving back in to in Washington. Nifty how that worked out.

I’d love to take credit for this cleverness, but my friend Rosemary tugged at my heartstrings when she gave these to us a few years ago.  What a perfect sentiment, right there on the seed packet already!


If you don’t have a whole box of cards to use, though, you can easily print your own, either on cardstock using your computer, or, if you have time to order them, for the cost of shipping and handling from Vistaprint. The cards themselves are free.  Really. They come in very handy, too, when you meet someone at a school function and want to easily give them your info. Or as return address labels on a package. Or dozens of other times, too.

Anyway, all I did was staple them onto packets of Forget-Me-Not seeds from the dollar store (4 for $1), along with a bit of bakers’ twine, tied a bow, and now I have a simple way to give friends our new contact info.  By the way, that’s not our real info in the photo, so don’t try to stalk us that way.

My kids love to plant seeds of any sort, so I think their classmates will love these little packets, and we hope they’ll use the info to keep in touch!


Etched Mason Jar Mugs

Yes, I got to use my glass etching cream again!  One of my friends mentioned how much she wanted some of those Mason jar mugs for iced tea this summer, so when she invited us over for brunch, I knew the perfect hostess gift to take along!


Etching in so very simple, too!  You need a few supplies:

Etching Cream (such as ArmourEtch)

Vinyl or contact paper for your stencil

A paintbrush to apply the cream

Whatever glass you’re going to etch (Pyrex brand doesn’t always work, so avoid if possible)

1. Cut your stencil, using an electronic cutter, diecut machine, or craft knife. Or use premade stencils from the craft store. Adhere the stencil to the glass, making sure to press the edges down really well, so no cream will slip under them.


2. Apply a thick, even layer of etching cream. Let it sit for five minutes, then wash it off under running water.


3. Peel the stencil off, and enjoy the results.

These make a fabulous gift, especially if you include a carton of ice cream and some root beer. Who doesn’t love a ready-to-assemble Root Beer Float Party?


Make a Monster is Retiring!

From the Stampin’ Up! catalog, that is. This is one of those sets that I bought, then did nothing with, then did a whole bunch with, then forgot about again. Poor stamp set. So I’m showing it some love today, sharing these cute photos with you!

One of the most fun things we did was to make Monster Minions with the set, some white cardstock, and some thin craft sticks (like wooden stir sticks, but you don’t have to sneak them out of Starbucks a dozen at a time). Not that I would have ever done that.


The supplies are simple:

  • Make a Monster stamp set (available only until June 3) Item 120606, $17.98 for the clear set; Item 118742 $23.95 for the wood set
  • White cardstock
  • Ink and markers or crayons
  • Thin craft sticks (from Walmart)
  • Some googlie eyes, of course!

The kids love making these and then spend hours playing with them, too.  We’ve made them several times, and now they each have quite the minion collection.  Now if I could only make some for myself that would actually do my housework, life would be fabulous!

By the way, this set makes great Halloween or kid birthday cards and crafts, and I created a really cute stamped canvas for one of my boys, as well as super fun “Monster Munch Mix” tags for Halloween gifts. I bet you could come up with even more creative uses! But only if you order it before it’s gone forever! (up there on the right sidebar…shop 24/7!)