For National S’Mores Day…Nutella S’mores!

This was what I thought last year on August 9, the day before National S’mores Day…and it holds true this year! I love using Nutella instead of chocolate on s’mores because 1) the chocolate doesn’t always melt enough to be gooey, and b) I don’t like chocolate, but I LOVE hazelnut and chocolate. Anyway, here are my words of wisdom from last year…

Occasionally, I have a lightbulb moment, such as this idea for Nutella S’Mores.  I do love Nutella, and I thought it might be perfect on a s’more.  And it was!

By the way, tomorrow, August 10, is National S’Mores Day.  Uh-huh, it is. I Googled it. So use your day wisely and prep your supplies!


As you can probably surmise, you just add a nice schmear of Nutella on one side of the graham cracker (and a few slices of strawberry or banana is delicious, too!), then use another graham to sandwich your toasted marshmallow and slide it off the roasting stick.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!

I even made a scrapbook page of our discovery…



Spring Break Escape

Last week, during Spring Break, we organized closets, moved the two littles in together and gave the eldest his own room, and managed to take a few days to escape to the Washington coast.

We love the Navy Resort in the village of Pacific Beach…the cottages are actually quarters from when it was an actual base, so you have a whole house to spread out in and enjoy.  I even wrote half of my research paper for Comp 2 while everyone else went to a movie.  Woohoo!

We always take a ton of photos (which, really, all look the same except the kids get bigger each visit), and this time I was determined to scrapbook them as soon as possible. Luckily for me, Designer Digitals has a great template on special for 99 cents this weekend, until Monday night…I kid you not, this page took five minutes to create!  If you’re a digital scrapper, or want to give it a try, stop by Designer Digitals before this special is over (but if you don’t make it by then, be sure to check out their weekly sales on Thursday and the 99 cent feature every weekend).


All I had to do was insert my photos into the template spots and add the background paper. The template background would have been fine to leave, but I wanted a little color and it was neutral. Oh, and I changed the color of “good” and added a scribble effect to it. But, again, you could leave it as is and still have a great page done in a few minutes. it is with just the photos added and no other changes, and it looks very clean and beachy:


You can print scrapbook pages at Costco for $1.49 for 8×8 or (I think) $3 for 12×12.  I believe other places print them as well, such as Walgreens or Walmart, but since I’m at Costco pretty much every other day (It seems), I just upload mine and pick them up when I’m there.

If you haven’t tried digiscrapping, it’s a great way to save your memories.  You can download free 30-day trials of the software I use, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or Stampin’ Up!’s My Digital Studio, which I think is super easy to use from the start. There are also tons of free digital files you can download on various sites, from background papers to fonts to embellishments. It’s a little addicting, I tell you! Have fun!


Magic Jellybeans

So this will be our third year planting Magic Jellybeans.  What, now?  You don’t know about Magic Jellybeans?  It’s one of those ideas I read online somewhere and filed away in the back of my mind (obviously before I had Pinterest, or I would have just pinned it).

It’s a simple idea…the night before Easter, plant some jellybeans and the next morning, giant lollipops (we use those Peeps-on-a-stick kebabs) have sprouted.  I cannot tell you how much the hooligans love this!  We even did it while staying at a hotel in Denver the first year…I saw a dude out walking his dog at oh-dark-thirty eyeing the Peeps kebobs very suspiciously, but thankfully, he steered his pet elsewhere to take care of business.

Here’s the scrapbook page I made from last year’s experience.  I made a little pillow box with a label smeared with “chocolate” (ink), put the jellybeans in it, and stuck it in our mailbox for the kids to find.  And, yes, I secretly saved the box so we can have the same delivery this year.



This-n-That Keepsake Book

Now, did y’all know Stampin’ Up! has a (fairly) new product line called This-n-That?  It’s rather like Smashbooks, but of course way cuter (in my opinion, anyway!).  It’s a little grungy, a little scrappy, a whole lot of just plain fun.

You can order an Epic Day journal, a fun Epic Day Rotary Stamp, Epic Day stickers, and a set of Epic Day Designer Series Paper. Of course, the colors in the suite are some of my favorite Stampin’ Up! exclusive colors:Basic Gray, Calypso Coral, Crumb Cake, Daffodil Delight, Gumball Green, and Pool Party, so you can coordinate with the markers and stamps and solid cardstock.  See how cute the inside is? (that photo is from Stampin’ Up!…it’s not me)This and That

Anyway, I ordered all the components last spring when it first became available, but I have a confession to make. I was completely intimidated by the front cover, which is chipboard with an embossed hexagon design. Again, super cute, but I just didn’t want to screw it up when I embellished it.

The interior pages include patterned paper that’s a little thicker than the Epic Day Designer Series Paper, but the same sort of prints, so the DSP and the book coordinate. I knew I wanted to use this book to record the funny things my kids say (that are probably only funny to us), and started doing that shortly after I ordered it. But every time I opened it up to write down a “Random Hooliganism” as I call them, I was reminded that the front cover was just “eh” and would have a little pang of creative guilt.

Yesterday, I found myself with some crafting time (and, truthfully, no blog post for today), so I was determined to finish the cover. And I did! And I really, really like it! And the couple of mistakes I made, I could correct or incorporate. Wanna see it? Here!


To embellish it and make it really mine, I first dragged a Pool Party ink pad across the front in several directions.  Next, I used my Hexagon Punch and the Epic Day DSP to randomly add some color and interest. I matted a sticker onto some DSP in the bottom left corner, and punched out and wrote a title in the upper right. After tying a few pieces of Seam Binding in coordinating colors onto the spiral, I was quite pleased with my efforts.

My problem now is the new line of This-n-That in the holiday catalog, Season of Style. It’s as cute as the Epic Day one, and promises to help get me organized for the holidays. And I think it’s cover can be left as is. At least for now. So I feel I NEED it…immediately.

If you’d like your own Epic Day or Season of Style journal, you can click on the “Stampin’ Up!” button there in the upper right sidebar. That’ll take you to my website, then click on the “This-n-That” collection when shopping. Easy as pie!

And in case you were wondering, here’s an example of a hooliganism:

6 year old boy: “Mama, what does “por que” mean in Spanish?”

Mama: “Why?”

Boy: “Well, I just wanted to know!”

See, funny to us.


Nutella S’Mores

Occasionally, I have a lightbulb moment, such as this idea for Nutella S’Mores.  Now, I have to say, I don’t care for chocolate, as a rule, and I really don’t like how your toasted marshmallow is never hot enough to melt the chocolate to a proper gooey-ness on a s’more. I do love Nutella, though, so I thought it might be perfect on a s’more.  And it was!

By the way, tomorrow, August 10, is National S’Mores Day.  Uh-huh, it is. I Googled it. So use your day wisely and prep your supplies!


As you can probably surmise, you just add a nice schmear of Nutella on one side of the graham cracker (and a few slices of strawberry or banana is delicious, too!), then use another graham to sandwich your toasted marshmallow and slide it off the roasting stick.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy!

I even made a scrapbook page of our discovery…



Papa’s Birthday Book

The hubs and I were puzzling over what to give his dad for his birthday a few weeks ago.  You know how it is…they have everything they need, and buy what they want. Then my May Paper Pumpkin arrived in its cheerful red box from Stampin’ Up! And guess what was inside?  A kit to make a mini-scrapbook! Perfect!

It came with chipboard covers, designer paper pages, tons of fun embellishments, an exclusive stamp set, and lots more designer paper to add wherever I wanted. Oh, and rings to bind it.

I hurried off to Costco and printed some photos, then sat down at my craft table to create.  And, let me tell you, it was so much fun!  I spent about an hour assembling the book, but it could have come together in half an hour if I’d been pressed for time.

Here are a few pages:

The cover, using the Woohoo single stamp that’s available only until the end of July.


The inside cover and first page.  I cut some solid color cardstock to 5”x5”, to match the book, and each hooligans drew a card on the front and back.  Each one’s card was followed by 4 pages of photos of that hooligan, then on to the next.



The last page was a photo of all of us at the Museum of Science and Industry, with a birthday wish added.


Then I just reversed the cover designer paper to cover the back, slipped the binder rings though the holes, and I was done!

Again, if you’re looking for a fun creative “escape” each month, I can’t recommend Paper Pumpkin highly enough.  Each month, the contents have been just what I needed to thank people, wish them a happy birthday, or even as a gift. I end up with an exclusive stamp set each month, along with a Stampin’ Spot ink pad.  I usually have embellishments leftover, as well, for other projects, not to mention the inspiration that I can reuse again and again.

I’m planning to make one of these for the hubs and my dad for Father’s Day, letting the kids again design some pages. For this project, it’s easy enough to cut a square of chipboard to serve as the cover (I save sheets of chipboard that are included as packaging when I buy paper or other supplies, then cut those to size).

Super fun, involves the whole family, and comes from the heart…like I said, it’s perfect! By the way, if you sign up for Paper Pumpkin by the 10th of the month, you’ll get that month’s Paper Pumpkin just a week or so later! And you can even try it for a month, if you’re not sure…so what are you waiting for? Go…now!


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!

Spring Break Mania

My goodness…what a whirlwind spring break turned out to be!  Our kids had a full ten days off, starting with Good Friday.  With our continued cold, damp weather, I was a bit worried about being able to keep the hooligans entertained WHILE CONTAINED IN OUR HOUSE.

Thankfully, most days were sunny, even if we didn’t make it into the 40’s.  My kids were so thrilled the snow had melted from the trampoline, they spent hours practicing for American Ninja Warrior on it. It has netting around it, so they don’t bounce off onto their little hard heads.

But I did plan a little something for each day, and big somethings for a few of them. Here’s a rundown of our break, and a couple of scrapbook pages I made so I can prove my mother-of-the-year attempts to their future therapists.Spring-Break-2013-1Spring-Break-2013-2

Day1: Good Friday.  We had a quiet day, except we went to see “Oz, the Great and Powerful.” All the kids were enthralled and couldn’t drag their eyes from the screen.

Day 2: We colored and decorated five dozen Easter eggs, and then I didn’t have time to make dinner so we went to Famous Dave’s for our favorite barbeque.0313-Eggs-on-table

Day 3: Easter!  Filled with Easter baskets, church, egg hunts, ham and asparagus risotto, and fun. And then it snowed, AGAIN, as we were inside watching “Hop” AGAIN.0313-Trio-Easter

Day 4: The kids had money the relatives sent for Easter that was burning a hole in their pockets, so we shopped for and built new Lego sets. And we had lunch at Culvers.  Have I mentioned that my kids are actually fun to take to restaurants? They sit in their seats, have real conversations with us, and we often even get compliments from the waiters on how well-behaved they are. Of course, at Culvers there are no waiters, but the busboys always stop to chat.

Day 5:  They had Tae Kwan Do and received invitations to test for their high purple belts, then we went roller-skating to burn even more energy. I skated for the first time in like 30 years…without falling.  Success!

Day 6: Princess Thundercloud had gymnastics, then we met some friends for pizza and games at a local restaurant. It was chaos, of course, but lots of fun.

Day 7:  We went to Chicago for a mini-vacation. It’s only a couple of hours away, but we tend to forget it’s so close and think we have to spend the night. We explored Cantigny Park, which has lots of military vehicles to clamber all over, as well as a very good museum about the 1st Infantry Division. There are also gorgeous gardens and the house that you can tour, but we skipped those this time.  All for only $5 parking. It’s the best!0413-Cantigny-Three-Tank

And we went to see The Croods, just to counteract any educational benefit the kids gained from Cantigny.

Day 8:  The Museum of Science and Industry was overwhelming!  We had planned to meet some friends there, but it was so crowded, it was all we could do to keep our hooligans in sight.  We had a blast learning about tornados and tsunamis, space junk, and the German sub there. Not to mention all the other exhibits we tore through! We’ll definitely have to make another trip down…or a dozen!0413-MSI-Sub

Day 9:  Heading back home, we detoured by the Jelly Belly Warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. They provided a nifty tour, as well as a bag of samples for everyone.  We tried a whole bunch of other flavors at the Tasting Bar, including Tabasco (which the hubs said was curiously good combined with lemon) and Maple Bacon Taffy.0413-Jelly-Belly-Tour

Day 10:  One of the first graders had a birthday party…a perfect ending to the week…yet more roller skating.  We came home from that and celebrated the melting of (almost) all of the snow by grilling outside for the first time this spring. Then everyone collapsed and rested for our return to reality.


Vacation Memory Flip Books

For Valentine’s Day this year, I made flip books for the hooligans with photos of our Florida trip.  I ordered them when photobooks were buy 1, get two free from Snapfish, and it couldn’t have been easier.

I chose a Mickey theme, since the majority of our time was spent at Disney, but then there were a few backgrounds that were less aggressively mouse-themed.  Those worked for our visits to Legoland and to see Winter the dolphin.

Flip-BookClick here to view the photobook

The cover is textured cardstock with a cutout to show the first page…our adventure started as soon as we got off the plane and the kids found out there was a TRAIN to the terminal. It’s fabulous to be young!

I liked the idea of these books because the kids love looking through our family yearbooks so much.  These were fairly inexpensive, so if they choose to take them on the bus to show their friends, it’s okay if they get a little tattered. The books, not their friends.


Our 2012 Photobook


Here it is…our Family Adventure Book for 2012!  I’d been procrastinating on putting this together, but decided one Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago that TODAY WAS THE DAY.  I already had all my photos edited, organized, and in files for the year, so it was a simple process of picking out about ten favorites from each month for the book.

I spent an afternoon uploading (which is a chore from our horrible, horrible internet access here…it took almost two hours to upload about 200 Mb), then creating the book through Shutterfly.  I used their chalkboard template, but chose my own layouts, then added embellishments and journaling.  I could have let them autofill the book, but I wanted to keep the months together. And maybe I have a bit of a control issue. Whatever.

In any event, I’m thrilled to have it complete, and the book arrived yesterday.  The hooligans poured over it all evening, reading and rereading and reliving moments through the year. I usually give a copy to each of the grandparents for Christmas, but this year it’ll be Valentine’s Day instead!  (Sorry for ruining the surprise, Grands)

I also order a copy for each hooligan every year, so when they leave home I can send their memories with them. I bet their kids will appreciate it!

Click here to view this photo book larger

As an aside, I’ve been battling a cold all week, so the blog hasn’t been exactly what I had planned this week!  I generally have about one cold a year, and they’re never more than a day or two of misery, so this has been a new experience for me…I literally couldn’t stay awake for more than about thirty minutes (and that’s without taking Nyquil!).  I’m not really sure what I’ve fed the kids this week…I vaguely remember making meals…I think soup appeared a lot.  But today…today I woke up feeling like myself again, and am so very happy to have some energy back.  I hope you enjoy your weekend…I plan to get back on track with crafting and blogging!