Archive | winter

happy weekend & the tree farm.

tree-farm

last weekend we kicked off christmas with a visit to the tree farm for pictures, hot cocoa, lots of shenanigans and to pick out our tree. but the festivities came to a screeching halt when we (but mostly my husband) got home and started laying new floors in our downstairs….(good job honey).

now that our home is mostly put back together, i can hardly wait to catch up on decking the halls and maybe watch a christmas movie or two.

what do you have going on this weekend!?

xo . rae

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advent calendar diy & download (& a peek!)

(if you are joining us from armommy, welcome! hope you like the new digs!)

happy day before turkey day!

i have a couple fun things to share with you today, including my new favorite place to shop for the kids, but first a tutorial!

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if you are like me, you started thinking about christmas way before it was time to make a shopping list for thanksgiving; especially considering how close the two holidays are this year! in an effort to help you get ready for december 1st i thought i would share a free download and tutorial to make this fun scratch card, advent calendar. it takes a couple hours to make so hopefully you have time over the weekend.

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…here are the details…

SUPPLIES: white card stock, the pdf template (sign up for emails to download), clear packing tape, butcher or wax paper, metallic paint, dish soap, paint brush (the sponge kind), a bucket of candy canes or favorite christmas candy

STEP 1: sign up for emails at the bottom of this post, download the template that is located on the “success” page, print on card stock and cut along dashed line.

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STEP 2: cut long strips of packing tape and stick to the wax side of your butcher paper.

STEP 3: mix 1 part dish soap with 3 parts metallic craft paint.

STEP 4: using your sponge brush, paint over the strips of tape until completely covered (this will take a few coats).

STEP 5: while the paint is drying, fill in the blank advent cards (i think there are 5 of them) with whatever you think the kids will like!

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STEP 6: once the paint has dried completely, cut the painted tape to a generous 5 inches wide. peel the paper from the back of the tape and stick to the bottom of each advent card, covering the message and almost halfway up the card. trim any excess tape that hangs off the edges.

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STEP 7: hang your finished advent cards on a wall, chalkboard or bulletin-board with a bucket of candy canes (or fave christmas candy) and a penny so the kids can scratch off the tape and reveal the message! the idea is to have the kids do what the message says and then take a treat, but you can do whatever works for your brood.

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tilly enjoyed practicing scratching off the paint to reveal a message for out little photo shoot and wanted to do all of them at once!

i have a feeling i’ll either be making a set for each child or will have to have a clear system in place so it’s easy to keep track of who’s turn it is!

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 now let’s talk kids clothes… peek kids is my newest pint sized fashion obsession and it all started with this sequence skirt i purchased for tilly to wear to her roller skating birthday party in october. she has since gotten a ton of use out of it, usually with a fun and playful message tee (of which peek has a ton of!), but i am looking forward to dressing it up with a fancy top for the holidays.

gotta love clothes that are made for a child’s lifestyle (in terms of durability and function) with the style and personality to match! don’t you think? have you shopped at peek before?

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let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial (or tilly’s outfit) in the comments and be sure to sign up for emails below to access the advent calendar download as well as our USA map poster!

xo . rae

{images by stacy jacobsen}

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everyone <3's mexican lasagna

i wish i could say that having my brood makes me an expert at picky eaters… but not so much.  every time i think i have it figured out, the next one is picky in a totally different way.  for instance, my oldest, ozzie required dippy to eat during his toddler years.  while my youngest, griffey is choosy about ev.er.y.thing….  child doesn’t even eat fruit right now unless it’s in smoothie form.  same song for the middles, too.  just a different tune.

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the good news is that my older three have (mostly) come out of the picky eater stage to the other side, healthy and still opinionated, but willing to try just about anything.  (persistence pays off!)

while I don’t have a foolproof plan to share there are a few tricks and yummy recipes i’ve learned and this mexican lasagna recipe is the perfect example of both.

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here’s why:

* if your little ones enjoy helping out in the kitchen, this recipe is the perfect fit for them (and you).  lots of prepping and assembling to keep their hands busy and kids love to eat what they helped make.  usually.

* it’s colorful, which is a good distraction.

* i’m not one to hide veggies in my kids food, but this recipe is full of yummy carrots that are grated so they won’t even notice.  (mom – 1, fussy eater – 0)

* the greatest advice i’ve received is to have my kids try something multiple times before deciding to scratch it off my recipe list.  this recipe makes a big enough batch that you’ll have plenty of leftovers to offer to little ones if they don’t like it right away.

* lastly, it’s a total crowd pleaser…. hasn’t failed me yet and even gets rave reviews at yoder’s (my hubs) fire station!

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doesn’t it look good?  in a messy sorta way?

here’s what YOU’LL NEED:

(serves 8 / to make in oven, preheat to 375, follow directions below and bake for 35 minutes until heated through)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and grated (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 2, 16-oz jar mild chunky salsa
  1. 1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the onions for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute.
  2. Add the ground turkey meat, cumin, salt and chili powder and cook for 6-7 minutes until cooked through. Place turkey mixture aside and cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg and sour cream together. Add the cooled turkey mixture, carrots, corn and cilantro and mix to combine.
  4. Spread a 1 cup of salsa on the bottom of the crock pot.
  5. Layer 5 tortillas on top of the salsa, cutting them if necessary to fit the crock pot and covering the salsa completely.
  6. Place half the turkey mixture on top of the tortillas and top with 1 cups of salsa and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  7. Add another layer of 3 tortillas on top of the cheese. Pour the remaining turkey mixture on top of the tortillas and top with another 1/2 cup of cheese.
  8. Top the lasagna with another layer of tortillas, pour the remaining salsa on top and cover with 1 cup of cheese.
  9. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours & then serve!

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we’d love to hear about your little eater(s) in the comments below…. or perhaps a tip you might have to share!

<3 . rae

(images by stacy jacobsen)

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balloon peeps

a couple weeks ago we put together a gallery for mom dot me on rainy day activities, the perfect topic for us seattleites.  the kids had so much fun helping with one of the project that we couldn’t resist but link to it from here along with a downloadable template.

meet our balloon friend,  r o c c o . . . .

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head HERE for the description and gallery.

click HERE to download the mustache and glasses template.

and if you are loving this DIWY project, tweet this!.

xo . rae + jane

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muffin tin meatloaves

One of my favorite parts of fall and winter months is making  c o m f o r t   f o o d .  Every part of the process brings a little bit of warmth into the home, from the ingredients to the baking and then finally the eating.  So good.

Since it’s been cooling off quickly in the evenings around here, I decided to fire up the oven and reunite the fam bam with a delicious and updated version of individual turkey meatloaves.

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They devoured them, asked for seconds, and were so full by the end of the meal that they didn’t even ask for dessert.

It’s also an easy recipe for the kids to help with.

And because the mini loaves need 45 minutes in the oven, there is plenty of time for them to help you clean up and set the table!

Click the image above to download the recipe.

It’s also part of the spread’s monthly meal plan for October.  You should join us if you haven’t already!?  The menu get’s posted today and for the first time features a filled out shopping list.

Before you go, let us know what your favorite comfort food is, in the comments below!  Mine would be pumpkin spice latte’s, but I’m not so sure that counts (te, he.).

xo . rae

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homemade pancake mix recipe

Every time I make something that comes in a can, jar, box or bag at the grocery store, from scratch, I’m amazed at how easy it is and delicious it turns out.  It also makes me feel like I live on a farm… and farms are cool.

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Making pancakes from scratch is extra easy because you make a large batch of mix all at once and then use part of it to make the pancake batter.  Just like you would a bag of krusteaz or bisquick, but without the extra ingredients that are impossible to pronounce.

If you would like to join us on our make-believe farm (please say yes!), here’s a recipe my mom and I whipped up:

HOMEMADE PANCAKE MIX (makes about 5 batches)
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (NOTE: you can substitute for all-purpose flour)
2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
1 tablespoon salt

1. Mix all ingredients together well and store in an airtight container.  Then use the following recipe to make the batter.

PANCAKE BATTER
2.5 cups homemade pancake mix
2 large eggs
water (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but delicious)
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

1. Whisk together all ingredients, adding water until combined but slightly lumpy!

2. Heat greased skillet or fry pan over medium heat.  Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake and cook until golden brown, flipping once.

Sounds good, yes?!  Well, I have a fun post planned for Friday and this recipe will come in handy so be sure to save or pin it!

What is your take on cooking/baking from scratch as opposed to store-bought???  Have you tried it?  Does it seem like too much work?  We would love to hear!

xo . rae (+ gamma jane)
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greek inspired chicken piccata recipe

ever feel like you could really use a happy surprise?  a change of pace? maybe with regards to dinner — and a no-fail chicken and noodles recipe you follow because everyone likes pasta and no one complains about chicken?

i have just the thing.  that will taste like heaven in your mouth.  especially if your down with all the greek flavors.

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say hello to:

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Greek inspired Chicken Piccata over Herbed Noodles

Serves 6 (with chicken leftovers for lunch)
Gluten Free, Dairy Free (if served without Feta)
Prep time: 15 minutes  Cook time: 15 minutes

8- 6 ounce chicken breasts, slightly pounded
1 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped, pitted kalamata olives
1 small can artichoke hearts in water, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cups spinach
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from approx 3 lemons)
2 tablespoons chopped and rinsed capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

For coating: In medium size bowl, add rice flour, salt, pepper and oregano. Dredge  the chicken breasts in mixture. Set aside.

In skillet, add oil over medium-high heat. Pan fry chicken breast until golden brown on each side. Remove cooked chicken breasts from skillet and drain excess oil.  Remove two of the chicken breasts for a later lunch recipe (see BBQ Chicken Sandwich Recipe). Add chicken breasts back to skillet over medium-high heat and add olives, artichoke hearts, stock, lemon juice and capers. Cook over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens, then reduce heat to medium, add spinach and cook until chicken is cooked thouroughly. Remove from heat and serve family style with parsley and feta.

For noodles (gf if desired), boil according to directions sprinkled with olive oil, lemon juice and chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

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once the noodles are cooked and drained, it’s super easy for the kids to add the herbs and lemon juice and toss together.

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making a fork “cheers” a must before taking a bite.

for more fun and yummy recipes, check out the “EAT” tab along the top of the page….

what has your family been loving to eat lately!?  ice cream and quesadillas totally count.

happy (memorial day) weekend!

xo . rae

// images by stacy jacobsen // recipe by armommy //

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chalkboard place mat DIY

A charming take on our beloved laminated place mats (I miss them, don’t you?).  And so fun to make!

SUPPLIES:

1. chalkboard paint   2. paintbrush   3. transfer paper   4. paint pens   5. pencil   6. 11×14 hardboard panel (found here)   7. printable template (click to download)   8. chalk (for when you are done)   9.  a couple pieces of tape

DIRECTIONS:

1. Paint your panel using chalkboard paint.  I used black, but the old school green would look cool too.  The panel soaks up the paint so you may need a few layers.

2.  In the meantime, print out the place setting template (click to download).  Once the paint has dried, cut a sheet of transfer paper to fit over the panel and tape in place.

3.  Starting with the plate, lay the printed template (don’t cut it out) facing up on top of the transfer paper.  Line it up where you want it and trace.

4.  Repeat step 3 for the rest of the place setting elements.

5.  When you are done tracing, peel the transfer paper from the panel and throw away.  You should see the place setting outlined on your painted panel now.  Using paint pens, outline (again!) the lines left by the transfer paper.

6.  Finally, embellish or doodle as you wish or leave everything blank for the place mats owner!

Hope this tutorial adds a little more fun and function to dinnertime!

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Is summer flying by for you too?  Have any tips for keeping the kids busy during dinnertime prep?  We would love to hear in the comments below.

xo . rae

ps – don’t forget to pin for safe keeping!

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diy chalkboard grande

i know there’s a bazillion and one chalkboard tutorials out there, but we enjoy (so much) having these oversized boards around our house i just had to share.  plus they are versatile, don’t require hanging and are cost effective.  oh, and (like whoa!) after one trip to the man store your halfway done with the project….

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supplies: 3/4 inch MPF board (cut at the man store), chalkboard paint (or interior paint and unsanded tile grout — it’s powdery — to make your own), paint brush or small roller, drop cloth of some sort, acrylic paint pens for permanent embellishments (optional).

directions:  decide what size and how many chalkboards you would like.  then hop in the car and head to your fave man store, stopping on the way for a starbucks.  once at the store pick out a sheet of MPF board, find an employee that seems nice and helpful and ask them to cut the board to your measurements or point you in the right direction.

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say “gracias!’ and head home.  next put a drop cloth down, wipe dust off board and apply coats of paint (homemade recipe below) with a paintbrush or small roller until everything is good and covered.  finally, let the paint dry overnight before using.  (the hardest part)

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for homemade chalkboard paint you need: any color interior paint & unsanded tile grout.

using a paint stirrer mix 4 tablespoons with just enough water to break up clumps (think thick pancake mix), then add 2 cups paint and stir together.  next follow directions above.

IMG_3235almost forgot….  you can also use an acrylic paint pen to draw permanent doodles.  i used a gold pen to make the flags above.  just for fun.

thanks for letting me share!  i hope you enjoy and find a reason to make one this week!

what would you use a new chalkboard for?  other than practicing your hearts, of course.

xo . rae
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salted caramel coffee DIY

Um, I will fo-sho be making one of these today….  anyone want to join me?  Happy to make extra.

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 Also, a little hint…

you can pour the caramel over the coffee and ice, but it will clump up a bit.  If that bugs you, pour your coffee, add the caramel, (stir) and then add ice.

To view or download the tags and recipe, click the image below.

Let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial…

So, now that we have our coffee, let’s chat 4th of July!  How was it?

Our day was so full of fun activities  (like a water balloon fight, blind-folded boat race, 3 legged relay…) & delicious food, it was hard to stay awake for fireworks!  Oiy.

Talk soon,

xo . rae

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tassel necklace DIY

Like it?  Love it?  Wanna make one?  (Fashion DIY’s get me so giddy.)

All you need is:  a swatch of leather (cut to 5 x 2.5″), a small piece of the leather to make a loop (cut to 1.5 x .25″), a necklace chain of your choice, a loaded hot glue gun or craft glue, ruler, & pencil.

STEP 1:  Cut leather.  Using your ruler and pencil, draw a line lengthwise 1/2″ inch from the top of your leather.

STEP 2:  Cut fringe up to your pencil line.

STEP 3:  Use your small piece of leather to make a loop at the top left corner of leather swatch, glueing into place.  Make a line of glue along the top length of leather and roll up.

STEP 4:  Hang on necklace chain and wear!

I found a good size piece of leather and chain at our local craft store at a great price.  Or, if you are feeling thrifty, try swinging by Good Will (or the like) and grab an old leather purse to cut up and necklace.

Also, note that if you use craft glue instead of hot glue, after glueing you will want to wrap a rubber band around the tassel to hold it in place until dry.

If you have any questions about the steps in the video, let me know in the comments below!

Now for a little bonus for the kidlets….  IMG_9817

Since returning from my L.A. trip, I’ve been wearing the tassel from the video almost everyday & Tilly has been requesting we make one for her.  So, we scheduled a play date and made a kid version out of fabric.

To DIY you need small pieces of fabric and string for the necklace.  We used leather string, but ribbon or shoe laces would work great.  Cut swatches of fabric 8.5 x 6.5″.  Then, fold them in half lengthwise and cut fringe up to the top 1/2 inch.

Flatten the fringed piece of fabric, wrong side up, and begin to roll.

Then fold in half and tie with a small strip of the fabric to hold it in place.

The project doesn’t need to be exact to come out looking cute, so it’s perfect for kids.

Even our smallest guest (a new 2 year old) got involved.

Thanks for visiting us!  Pin or share with friends if you love.

X&O, Rae

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