Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Veggie Chicken and Dumplins



School started back for us this week, and it's a whole new routine here at our new house. We live close enough to the school to be disqualified for bus service, which in turn qualifies us to wait 30 minutes in the drop off/pick up line. Since it's a 10 minute walk, that's what we're going with, and I have loved it so far. One on one time with my middle kiddo, 10 minutes to myself on the way back, and easy exercise to boot!

But, it does mean I don't want to spend hours on dinner if I can help it, so last night I made one of our very favorite fast and easy meals. It might actually be my very very favorite. Lily especially can be very picky, and this is one where she will always ask for seconds. And bonus - you get to get some veggies in them!

Okay, a couple of disclaimers: I am not a food blogger, so I don't have amazing presentation pictures here. It's hard to stage things when you're trying not to eat your subject first. Second of all, this is the FAST MAMA version. Yes, this can absolutely be made healthier. You can use fresh chicken and fresh veggies and homemade cream of whatever soup mix and skim milk etc. etc. And it's very good that way. But it's amazing this way too, and it's not only quick, but cheap. So if you are looking for a way to get something yummy, hot, and comforting in their bellies between homework and bedtime, this is the ticket.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe my friend Rebecca gave me seven years ago, and it has never not been a hit. I added the veggies and adjusted the soup/milk ratio some to stretch it out and it is so very, very good! This amount feeds my family of five with just enough left over to send Nick lunch to work the next day (if we show great restraint and don't make poor decisions about how much is actually a reasonable amount to eat for one meal. This is not a single serve portion, even if you believe you can).

Start out with the following:
26 Ounce Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
29 Ounce Can of Veg-All/Mixed Vegetables
2 Cups Bisquick/Baking Mix
3 2/3 Cups of milk, divided
2 10 ounce Cans of Chicken/2-3 cooked chicken breasts, cut into chunks


Your milk will need to be divided into 3 cups and 2/3 cup



Add 3 cups milk, vegetables, soup, and chicken to large pot on high. My chicken was a tomato herb flavor, just because it's what I had on hand, but plain chicken is just fine. 

While this heats, mix Bisquick and remaining 2/3 cup milk. 


Form into small dumplins about the size of a heaping tablespoon and add to soup mixture.



Bring to a boil, then set heat on low. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes more. Stir occasionally. Before removing from heat check to make sure your dumplins are not gooey. If they are undercooked, leave it on the heat for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

And you're done! I love this with black pepper, which is weird, because I don't like black pepper on really anything, but it's SO good on this dish. Nick's papaw passed away a few years ago, and he put copious amounts of black pepper on everything he ate, so this dish always makes me think about him. 


This stuff is so yummy! I'm super jealous that Nick got to take the rest of it for lunch today. Let me know if you try it!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Easy Cardboard Rocket Craft


This year's Vacation Bible School curriculum was called To The Edge, and it was space themed. My sister-in-law Rachael was in charge of the decorations, and people, it was out of this world! (Bahahahaha! Snort. Okay, just ignore me) Seriously though, she did an amazing job. Check out a few of the pictures (Excuse the quality of some of them. The lighting wasn't the best in some areas. I plan to post some of the pictures from the actual event on a later post.):

The black light hallway was a huge hit.



My mom and dad put these rockets together, and Rachael made that awesome astronaut herself!

The "computer screens" at the control panels even lit up!

This robot. How amazing is this? Of course I think the guy standing next to him is pretty amazing too. :)

I can't believe how detailed everything was. Have I mentioned that she's five months pregnant and has two kids under four? Yeah, serious supermom stuff.

Anyway, I was really surprised at the lack of VBS friendly space themed crafts out there on Pinterest. There were a lot of space themed projects, but very little that could be done with multiple kids in 20 minutes. So I wanted to share these awesome rockets we made!

This is a super quick and simple craft, even for a group, especially if you have your paper pre-cut. Materials needed are as follows:

5 inch cardstock circle
Toilet paper roll or other cardboard tube about 4 inches in height
Scrapbook paper or plain white copy paper 4x8 inches
3-4 wood half circles
Hot glue gun



At VBS we used plain white paper to wrap the rockets and let the kids color on them. You can absolutely use toilet paper rolls, but a friend at church brought me a massive bag of these heavy duty cardboard shipping tubes from his job. They were already 4 inches long, and they were perfect for this craft!

First run a line of hot glue down the side of your cardboard tube.


Glue down your paper on the short edge, wrap all the way around the rocket and glue down the other end.



Cut a slit halfway across your 5 inch circle and form into a cone shape.


Glue the cone closed.




 Run a thick line of hot glue around the rim of your tube and set the cone on top. Make sure to put it on straight, and make sure it touches the glue all the way around.



Glue on your wooden half circles as feet. (Or a stand maybe? thrusters? I don't know.) I found these in bags of 100 pieces at Hobby Lobby. However, they were in the clearance section for about $4, so I don't know if they stock them anymore,  but if you are making a bunch of these and can't find the half circles, you could buy wood circles to cut in half. If you are just making one or two, you could use any number of things in their place - paper straws, popsicle sticks, short lengths of dowel rod, etc.


The kids had a blast (hehe) with these, and they were appealing to a wide age group. At VBS I had the kids glue on the paper around the side and glue the cones closed with glue sticks for safety reasons. I and another worker glued the cones to the top and glued the feet on with hot glue. I made some extras for our nursery age kids who didn't get to participate in craft time, and they were a universal hit (ha! I can't stop!).



Saturday, August 6, 2016

Clay Typography Wall Art

It's honestly kind of rare for me to have a project turn out exactly how I envisioned it, but this one did just that. A few days ago the kids wanted to play with clay, so I got out my molds and Sculpey. I have a bunch of the Martha Stewart Clay Molds as well as a bunch of the Mod Molds. The great thing about all of these is that you can bake the clay right in them. I don't know if it's actually recommended, but I've done it many times and don't have any sort of damage to my molds. That said, the Sculpey I usually use bakes at 275° F, so I would be cautious baking the molds at any higher temperatures.

I've been making a lot of little wood burned pieces for Sawyer's and Lily's rooms, which I love, but I wanted something with a little more color. So I used various colors of Sculpey and my Mod Molds alphabet mold to make letters spelling out Sawyer the Brave and Lily the Lovely.



These were easy peasy, although they took a little over an hour to make because the mold has one of each letter and Lily had 4 L's on her piece and there were 5 E's between the two. Most of that time was bake time though. Actual working time was probably 10 minutes.

Materials needed(non affiliate links):

Sculpey oven bake clay in various colors (I think mine was Sculpey III)
Mod Molds Alphabet Mold
Unfinished 3.5 inch wood circle (Mine came in a 6 pack at Walmart for $1.47)
Hot glue gun



Knead your clay until soft, then fill mold letters needed for your message.

Bake according to package directions. Allow to cool enough to remove from molds.

When you have all your letters baked, lay out your message as you want it to be on the finished piece.

Pick up one letter at a time and glue in place with hot glue.

Clean up any glue strings and you're done!

These pieces are so fun! I had to make Lily and Sawyer both bring them back so I could get pictures of them, because they took off with them as soon as they saw them! And they are easy enough that they would make a great kid craft just so long as you help with the hot gluing.

You can add a picture hanger to the back if you want, but the wood is thin, so I've found that sticky back velcro dots are a better option. Most of the items on Sawyer's gallery wall are hung with these, including his big letters, and I've had no problem with anything falling off. Yes, I know the clay piece isn't up there yet. Baby steps, people.


If you make a Sculpey art piece like this I'd love to see it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Showers of Blessings


Guys, I just had to pop in for a minute and tell you how God has blessed me over the last few days. And because every post needs a picture, I'm sharing a quick snap of Sawyer's gallery wall in progress. Everything on it was either thrifted, on clearance, or handmade. Sometime soon I plan to post about all that wood burned art.

Anyway, I just wanted to share how good to me God has been this week. I've been kind of stressed the last few days. We just finished up Vacation Bible School at our church (which was awesome - eight kids saved!). I'm in charge of the crafts every year, which I love, but it's always exhausting. And this month it just seems like the bills have been rolling in and I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that school starts back in less than two weeks and it didn't look like Sawyer was going to be able to get into the preschool program we were hoping for and I was trying to figure out the school clothes situation for these kiddos that are growing like weeds, etc. etc. etc.

Man, I tell you what - God has got us covered! A few days ago a friend at church shared a link to Schoola.  Full disclosure, that is my referral link, but this is not a compensated post. I'm sharing it because I got some amazing deals and I want to share the love. Schoola is a program that collects gently used clothing and resells them at awesome prices to benefit schools. When you sign up (for
free) through a referral link like mine you get a $20 credit. Then if you create a collection (also free),
you get another $10 credit. They also immediately email you a 50% off coupon which makes your $30 in credit worth $60. And shipping is free! And if you go through my link, I get a $20 credit too.

So let me tell you what I've gotten with my sign up credits and referral credits so far: for Taylor I got 3 shirts, 2 sweaters, one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, and a hoodie. For Lily I got 2 shirts, 7 pairs of pants, 3 dresses, 2 skirts, and a coat. For Sawyer I got 6 shirts, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and a pair of shoes. And I even got a shirt for me! That's $351.50 worth of clothes, and I've spent $3.30 out of pocket. I've gotten to use a coupon on every order so far, and I'm hoping to get a few more referrals to round out a few more pairs of pants for Sawyer, so if you want to sign up and get
some awesome name brand clothes for your kids or yourself for free, I would really appreciate you using my link above.

And speaking of Sawyer and school, I got a call today that Sawyer is going to be able to participate in the preschool program we wanted after all! Guys, this is a HUGE blessing, and a very direct answer to a specific prayer!

I also got a couple of surprise cards earlier this week - one from a sweet lady at church that was just a very precious and encouraging note that really brightened my day, and one from my secret sister with a gift card in it! That's going to be the start of my fund for my Workbox 2.0!

Kind of the icing on the cake today was this little reminder I got when I was fixing dinner:


This was on the back of the bag of chicken I was baking, and it is my very favorite verse! Isn't it neat how God loves on us?

Happy Tuesday, guys!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Handmade Gifts

Guys, the craft room is coming together! I've still got a little organizing to do, but I'm getting there. So anyway, I wanted to show you some of the handmade gifts I've made and given over the last few months. Fair warning, a lot of these are quick cell phone pictures I grabbed on my way out the door rather than pretty staged shots, but I'm going on the theory that done is better than perfect.

Let's start with a few things I made for Christmas gifts.


I made paracord fishing flies for the dads and brothers in my life, and I really liked the way they turned out. They were quick and easy, and you can find the tutorial I followed here. I wrapped mine with fishing line instead of an interior filament of the paracord and sealed it with super glue, and I was really pleased with the way they looked. I made some from bright colors and some from muted shades, which made them good for different applications.



I also made several of these paracord lanyards that hang from the straps of waders and hold the tools used in fly fishing.


I made this shirt for my cousin. You can buy a similar one here if you don't want to DIY your own. (Not an affiliate link)


I made Taylor and her best friend Lexye each a Taco Bell Is Life pillow from hand dyed drop cloth.



These were various bracelets I made for moms, aunts, and sisters.






 (I might have kept this one for myself. Shhhh!)


This was the shirt I made Lily for Valentines Day. It was her very specific design.


This was the shirt I made for Levi, which matched the one I made for Sawyer, although Sawyer's said Heartbreaker.


 (No, I have no idea why he was wearing a helmet)


They also got matching Plex shirts.They're both big Yo Gabba Gabba fans.


Speaking of Yo Gabba Gabba, I made Sawyer this Brobee shirt. I passed this little green striped shirt at the thrift store 4 or 5 times before I bought it. I really liked the stripes, but I couldn't think what I wanted to do with it, and Sawyer has a ton of t-shirts. Then one day it just clicked what a perfect Brobee shirt it would make, so into my cart it went. It's one of his favorites.


These little Jesus Loves Me shirts for Lily and my niece Adelaide were made at the request of Adelaide's mom Rachael. You can buy a similar one here. (Not an affiliate link)



This was Lily's St. Patrick's Day shirt.


This little shirt was for my nephew Lawrence who looooves his little guitar!



My brother Cary is a huge duck hunter, so as part of his birthday gift Nick and I made him this duck hunting themed key fob. It was a metal tag from the Target Dollar Spot. I cut a stencil out of vinyl, and Nick sand blasted it. The quote on the back is a scripture reference. We also sand blasted his favorite sports logo into a metal tumbler, but I didn't get a picture of it. (I know, lame.)



This was Lily's shirt for Dr. Seuss Day at school.


This coral earrings and bracelet set was for my sister-in-law Leah's birthday.


Just before we moved into the new house we had the biggest blessing! A lovely lady from our church got some new furniture for her living room and gifted us her previous couch, chair, and recliner. They were in pristine condition - she just wanted some smaller pieces, and they were perfect for our living room! She is a pilot, and I made her this bracelet as a thank you.


This Minnie shirt was for my niece Adelaide's 2nd birthday.


I also found these sweet leggings and made shirts to match them.


 

For Mother's Day I made a few of these fun potholder purse organizers. The floral one came from Walmart and the quatrefoil one came from Target.




On Mother's Day our church gives a small gift to every woman and girl there. This year we gave these lovely fancy paper clips. My mom, Taylor, her friend Lexye, and I added the buttons to the clips, and I cut, punched, and stamped all the cards.


I added vinyl to these cups as thank you gifts for our realty team and they loved them! FYI, these are the Ozark Trail brand from Walmart. I have the same cup in the 30 ounce, and it is identical in looks and performance to Nick's 30 ounce Yeti tumbler for oh, 1/4 of the price. Seriously. Get one.


My friend Melissa's birthday was a few weeks ago, and I made her this sweet little cross stitch necklace. 



This wreath was for Lily's room. It has been on my to do list since I saw it on Capture the Details like six years ago, but I couldn't ever seem to find the fun fur yarn in this shade of green. Then when we were "in storage" as I refer to the time of our life when we were on the market and everything fun that I own was in a storage unit, I found a couple of skeins at a thrift store. I finally got to put it together a couple of weeks ago.  


These were gifts for Nick's grandmother for Mother's Day (the yellow set) and her birthday (the red white and blue set and the cards).


The cards are blank inside and were hand embroidered. I made them using this Amy Tangerine Stitched set I found at Tuesday Morning. They were actually pretty time consuming to make, but also kind of a soothing activity, and I hope she likes them.

   








These were the cards I made her to give her with the gifts, and I am SO excited with how they turned out. Okay, here's the deal. As I was going through all the mountains of stuff I was putting away in my craft room I came across a couple of sheets of 4x6 photo paper. I have tons of this stuff. Tons of it. But I never print my own pictures. I have a photo lab that I love, and I just couldn't begin to touch their quality on a home printer. But several people have given me boxes of the paper, and I was always at kind of a loss what to do with it. I was on the verge of tossing the couple of loose sheets in the trash when my eyes fell on the box housing my ridiculously large collection of embossing folders. I grabbed my Big Shot and some dies and cranked out the coolest paper elements ever! Okay, maybe not really, but I love, love, LOVE the way the photo paper looks with some embossing!





Anyway, that's some of what I've been up to. What have you been making?