Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 4: Hot Chocolate Bar

Our advent activity on Tuesday was a hot chocolate bar!  Yummy nummy nummy!  

It doesn't take a lot to get my kids excited, so our mix-ins were pretty simple.  Besides, I knew they would want to have EVERY SINGLE ONE in their chocolate and I didn't want the flavor combinations to turn nasty!

Extra points for you if you can tell me where the quote on my mug comes from!  Here's a view of the back so you can see the whole quote:

Aw.  My sweet Mr. Darcy husband had this made for me after I showed him a similar one on Pinterest.  Ladies, if you share my love of Pride and Prejudice, might I suggest some subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints?   Print it out and put it on your wall...e-mail the picture to your honey...create one yourself and tell him that you've got his Christmas present to you covered... (does anyone else ever buy their own presents?)

Wait.  We were talking about chocolate, right?  It's hard to stay focused on two of my favorite topics at the same time!  What else would you stir into hot chocolate?  Do you have a favorite schmancy kind?  I'm in the market for a "Mommy only" variety!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Great Minds Think Alike!

I was in the process of writing this post when Adriane's latest post popped up, with wonderfully detailed instructions on how to make an adorable Christmas Advent Calendar... AH! She beat me to it! I honestly debated whether or not to post this because let's be honest- Adriane's advent calendar is awesome... and mine is sort of the slacker version of hers. But then I decided that I'm going to embrace my inner slacker, and that perhaps there are other slackers like me out there who want to make something cute and festive to help their family count down the days until Christmas but lack patience and creativity to do much. So here we go!

This year it was time to retire our old advent calendar- a darling mini-stocking garland that hung in our bay window- simply because it no longer matched anything in our home. I was on the look-out for something that was bright and cheery, and wouldn't take up a lot of space. After a bit of research I landed on this:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Advent

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  Now it's time to get busy getting ready for the next holiday!  If you are like me, trying to get traditions started and set the tone for Christmases to come, that preparation can be a little intimidating.  (And if you aren't--please comment: What has been your favorite Christmas tradition?!?)

I am excited about this tradition which we will be starting this year--our Christmas Advent Calendar!  This will be the third year I've been tweaking this project (sorry to those of my friends who have seen this already).  I would love to share some tips and warnings so that if you decide to try this out it might go more smoothly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree!

We're jumping from incredible Halloween costumes to Christmas decorations here at One Lucky Pickle today! Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. In fact, I'm pretty much giddy from the week before Thanksgiving clear until New Year's Day. What can I say? I LIVE for this time of year! 

As I was putting away the Halloween decorations last week I started going through the scary towers of boxes in our attic and I soon realized that I was in a serious pickle! None of my Christmas stuff matches our newly remodeled home! In fact it all CLASHES... like bad. Like wearing socks with sandals bad. I presented this pickle to my husband who quickly insisted that it wasn't much of a pickle. After a long conversation about whether or not my pregnancy insanity has completely taken over we finally came up with a compromise- I could sell some of our old decorations, and whatever money I end up  making is how much I have to spend on giving our Christmas decorations a little make-over. 

I love to set up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving, so the clock is ticking! I was able to sell a few of our older Christmas items and now I get to spend my evenings crafting. Some of my old things were easily updated with a new coat of paint and new vinyl letters, others needed some modge podge and hefty dose of my husband's worst nightmare- GLITTER! (Living in a house full of girly girls has got to be rough... poor guy. I promise to buy him something manly for being such a good sport.) My favorite new addition has got to be these darling little Christmas trees.

I was trying my best to be thrifty and crafty, so instead of buying styrofoam cones to cover I decided to make my own out of recycled cereal boxes. No joke! I  keep looking at the finished product thinking, wow... you used to be filled with cheerios. Amazing. And it's so easy! 

1- Unfold your box and roll it into a cone. 
2- Staple or tape it in to place and cut it to be the height you want.
3- Bust out some trimmings and your hot glue gun and start decorating!

That's it! I did end up covering mine with felt before I added any decorations just because I didn't want to risk any cardboard showing through, but that's probably an optional step. 

I have big plans for making a whole little Christmas tree forest for our mantle, and some of them are turning out way cuter than these ones did... but I know that if I wait to do this post until they are all done it won't happen. So let me introduce you to the trees I have finished.

The "Muppet" Tree
Seriously, doesn't this remind you of everyone's favorite little red monster from Sesame Street? It's just some fuzzy yarn I picked up on sale at Hobby Lobby for about $2. I only used about half of it. 

The Tinsel Tree
I just used some tinsel I had in my attic for this one. My girls love this one because it "Parkles". (Sparkles)

And The Ruffle Tree

For this one I just used a little ruffle trim I found at Walmart for $2.50. I should have made this one a smaller tree because I actually ended up running out of ribbon and having to go get more. bummer. Oh well- we love ruffles at our house, even more than we we love glitter! 

The possibilities are truly endless here! I honestly laid in bed last night dreaming of cute trimmings I could use to make more trees. I'm thinking feathers, buttons, felt, little silk flowers, and of course... glitter. :)  I love that this project is totally adaptable. You can make your trees to match your style and your decor. I think a whole forest of trees in shades of ivory, white, and gold would be gorgeous. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think! In fact I'd love to see pictures of what you come up with because I'm sure they'll be cuter than what I did! Post them on our Facebook page so we can all admire your work!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Angry Fowl-O-Ween!

It was in a moment of genius that I decided, "We will be Angry Birds for Halloween this year."  They boys LOVE LOVE LOVE Angry Birds, and there are enough that they could choose their favorites and we could all be something different.  Don't forget the catchy theme song that we could play with us as we walked around!

It was in a moment of insanity that I decided, "I can totally make all of the costumes."

"Without any patterns..."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Fruit Fly Trap Experiment

Pinterest is a fabulous thing. So much inspiration. 

But there's a heckuvalot of hooh hah, too. Lots of tips for how to do things faster, easier, cleaner... some are fabulously brilliant, and others just plain don't work. 

Which brings me to my experiment.

The fruit fly trap experiment. 

Yesterday I made the mistake of leaving half of a very ripe banana out on our counter. It's other half met his untimely end (or rather--quite timely. He was rather brown after all...) in my lunchtime oatmeal smoothie. Lunchtime is not the most relaxing time in our house, and one thing led to another, and... well... that other half was completely forgotten. 

Needless to say, we had a rather large colony of fruit flies in no time, and my husband was a wee bit irritated with me. 

"Don't worry!" I said. "I pinned a fruit fly trap with apple cider vinegar!"
"Do we have apple cider vinegar?"
"Um... no. But I'll get some! PROMISE!"

And I did. 

I was worried the trap wouldn't work because I had heard good and bad things about this method. Maybe those who didn't have any luck with it did it differently. Or maybe they have some super genetically advanced species of fruit fly lurking in their homes. Who knows. 

My point is--this worked for me and I'm going to give some specifics on how I did it, because the "recipe" I found didn't include some steps that made a difference for me. 
Place some apple cider vinegar in a small bowl or cup.

Pour in some of dish soap. 
I didn't measure mine. I just drizzled it in. The soap is what actually traps them.
If you find that the fruit flies aren't heading towards your trap, you may have added too much. It's the smell of the apple cider vinegar that attracts them--if you add too much it smells too much like soap.

This wasn't specified in my "recipe". The soap will just sink to the bottom if you don't mix it together, and your trap's trapping skills will plummet to a big fat ZERO. Your fly cocktail should look murky like this:

Place your trap right next to whatever fresh fruit you have out on the counter.

We had a LOT of flies, thanks to my boo boo with the banana. So I was able to watch them get drawn to the trap almost immediately. Okay--once I figured out I needed to stir the dang thing. Laugh all you want--it wasn't explicitly stated in my "recipe," and I always follow recipes exactly the first time.

Within 10-15 minutes we had caught at least 10! It was fun (and a little bit addicting) to go back and count all the flies sitting in the bottom of the bowl!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Healthier No-Bake Macaroni and Cheese

I have a confession that I am hesitant to reveal.

I don't like mac n' cheese.

That's not 100% accurate--I love mac n' cheese, but only the real from scratch kind.  So I didn't used to eat it a lot.  I didn't like having to use my oven to bake it--it takes forever, and it heats up my house in the summer.

My kids and husband, however, seem to have a penchant for cardboard noodles and plastic cheese (a.k.a. Kraft).  Whenever I would try to make homemade macaroni and cheese, I would get a lot of negative feedback.  "These noodles taste too delicious."  "This cheese doesn't make me feel sick to my stomach." "My dinner doesn't glow neon orange the way I like it too."

When I found this recipe, it was no exception.  But I liked it because it cooks in a skillet.  It's almost as fast as pulling out the blue box!  And it's YUMMY!  So I ignored my kids' whining and kept making it.  But one day, I thought of a way to add some extra orange color in addition to some extra deliciousness: I added some canned yams.  It was good, but a little too sweet.  I tried pumpkin.  Also yummy.  My favorite secret ingredient turned out to be carrots!  They are bright orange, and the flavor blends pretty well.  Baby carrots are so easy to throw into the steamer and have cooked in no time.  Full sized carrots have more nutrition, brighter color, and a stronger flavor (and are cheaper...), so experiment. With a little extra enthusiasm from their parents, my kids were more than willing to pronounce the meal "SUPER DELICIOUS!"

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
1 3/4 c. uncooked macaroni noodles
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/8 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 1/4 c. water
1 T. flour
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 c. cheese
Up to 1 cup of orange vegetables, cooked and pureed

In a large skillet, combine noodles, spices, and water.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes (Gluten free noodles take about 10, and I don't know about regular wheat ones) until macaroni is tender.  Sprinkle flour over mixture (I use rice flour to keep it GF); blend well.  Stir in evaporated milk and cheese. Simmer until mixture thickens and cheese melts; stir constantly. Mix in cooked & mashed veggies.  Serves 6.

It's a little heavy on sauce, and we like it that way.  But you can try some extra noodles and water and experiment with the noodles to sauce ratio. Either way, it's mmmmmm yummy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Microfiber Care

I had heard about how fabulous microfiber is for cleaning.  The tiny fibers (thinner than a human hair--sometimes by 1/200) clean anything with just water, so you can ditch harsh cleaners and stop using paper towels--saving money, time, and the planet! They are also great for dusting when they are dry, and for cleaning cars, glasses, and screens (TV, computer monitor, etc) because they don't scratch.

So when I saw a pack of microfiber cloths at the grocery store a couple of years ago, I snagged them.

They cleaned well-I especially liked the way they removed waxy buildup from my kitchen table: magically.

I did NOT like the way they held onto stains!  I could not get them too look or feel clean!

So I pulled out the big guns and bleached those suckers.

Are you cringing?  I know.  Me too.  I didn't realize that bleach will destroy those tiny little microfibers.  As a side note, fabric softener, instead of softening these cloths, will clog the fibers and make it so they can't pick up dirt or dust anymore.

My poor, pretty, microfiber cloths.  They just got more stained, less soft, and worse at cleaning.

My mother-in-law heard that boiling the microfiber cloths would restore them.  I tried it out, and it helped--though I think that my cloths are probably past saving, the poor dears.

I may try again, and not with grocery store cloths.  Real Simple Magazine says that the best microfiber cloths are from e-cloth.*  But at $30 for a pack of 5 cloths, I had better figure out how to take care of them!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkin Pillow Pals

It's officially my favorite time of the year! Crisp apples, cool evenings, cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, and absolutely everything smells like pumpkin and cinnamon. Love it. Love it. LOVE it! I've been feeling like my house could use a bit of harvest cheer lately, so I whipped up some pumpkin chocolate chip bread to get that yummy fall flavor in the air, and then I went out to the garden to pick some darling little pumpkins. 
Except they're not real pumpkins, they're pillows. And they didn't grow in the garden. I don't have a garden... I don't even have a yard. 

 But still they're cute right? 
But wait, there is more to these pumpkins than meets the eye...
NOW how cute are they!? 

Ah! So fun!
"So, what are they?" you ask?
Well, it's like what you would get if Mr. Potato Head and a Pumpkin had a baby... or maybe Mr. Potato Head and a Pillow Pet... Either way... the Pumpkin Pillow Pal was born! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A New Start

Hello school year, how we have looked forward to  you!

What--you all started school several weeks ago?  Yeah, we did too.  But I'm just now feeling like I've almost got the hang of this new schedule...ish.  Maybe I'm a little slow.  But I'm in serious need of some new organization around here.  And some way to train the natives as to our new routine.

Is my child the only one who can take 30 minutes to get undressed?  And then runs around the house naked before I threaten to lock him in his room until his clothes are on...and then we rush out the door, get to school late, and little creatures keep yelling at me because THEY wanted to {wash their hands} (insert whatever I just helped them do) BY THEMSELVES and now they refuse to do ANYTHING at all.

We've been doing a lot of "you can come out of the corner when you can show me a happy face."  But they won't let ME stay in the corner until my face is happy...

I'm thinking the new routine is throwing them off.  And maybe me too.  So, I introduce...

{dooh doo doo DOOOOOOH!}

Our new sticker chart:

Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Laminated Placemats

How does the old song go? "Sometimes you gotta pray just to make it through the day?" Well I totally agree. Prayer and ice cream and the promise of bedtime. My mommy survival kit would not be complete without the hidden stash of chocolate ice cream in the freezer! Who's with me?!  Don't pretend like you don't have one. This is a Mom-blog. Your secrets are safe here, I won't tell your Zumba instructor on you.

Well, it's been one of those weeks over here. In fact last night I collapsed in bed at about 12:30 after running 100 mph all day and realized I had never stopped to eat dinner. I made dinner. I fed my kids dinner. I cleaned up dinner. But somehow I didn't manage to eat any of it. How does that happen? I dragged myself out of bed, opened up the pantry and grabbed the first thing I saw. Oreos and milk for dinner? Don't mind if I do!

Anyway- big news at our house!  We finally bought a kitchen table big enough for our family to sit at! (For years now we've taken turns eating, or we adults end up standing at the kitchen counter to eat. Call me crazy but sometimes it's nice to actually SIT down to a meal.) It's beautiful, and I love it. However the problem is it's beautiful and I LOVE it!  I panic every time the kids sit down because without fail they end up gouging my gorgeous wood table. The first time it happened they were pounding on it with  their silverware chanting "We want food! We want food!"  AHHH! Not cool. I needed to think of a solution and QUICK!

Enter exhibit A) The placemat!
*Note* the table in these pictures is NOT our new table. This is our teeny tiny one. :) What can I say? The lighting is better in the kitchen than in the dining room. 
I didn't want just any run of the mill placemat. I wanted something cute and whimsical that would go with our current crazy color scheme. I also wanted them to be wipeable, because Hi- I have kids. So I went through my fabric stash and used a bunch of scraps I had left over from my pillows and curtains, and then shopped the clearance section at JoAnns for a few coordinating prints.

These could not have been any easier. 

Cut some rectangles, mine are 11 x 17. They're pretty big which works for us but I might go smaller if you don't have a huge table. They don't have to be perfect at this point, you can trim them up later.

 Then, because I wanted to make mine reversible I used some HeatBond and ironed two pieces together.

I trimmed them up and took them to Kinkos where I had them laminated. I went ahead and used the nice heavy laminate because I wanted them to last. It cost about 2 dollars for each place mat. Not shabby considering it has totally saved my kitchen table from the damage caused by my little bunch of crazies. :)

There you have it. 
The perfect combination of whimsy and practical. The girls love that they can flip their mat over and pick which side they want to use. I love that they add such a fun pop of color to our table. And as an added bonus they make post-dinner clean up so easy! The girls love to help me wipe down the placemats before we put them away.

 photo bloglovin_zps73d7815c.jpg

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Ramble Plus A Vintage-y Butterfly Card

Do you ever feel like you might just drop dead from being a mother?  It's been one of those weeks...or months.  But I'm hoping I'll come out of the slump soon.

It's a good thing I have hobbies, or I would go crazy!  Even though sometimes I don't have as much time as I would like for them, I love being able to sit down and do something that I want to do--that is completely unrelated to the needs of my husband and kids (as dearly as I love them).  I think it is a reminder that Mommy is a person (check out that awesome post if you need a reminder) too, and I deserve to have some of my precious time spent on myself.

So I make cards.  I like to tell myself that they will serve a purpose someday.  That I will someday be a thoughtful person who is constantly writing little notes of gratitude and affirmation to everyone I've ever met.  So far, that transformation hasn't occurred...but I do have an ever growing stash of cards waiting for that blessed day.  Until then, I use the wedding and birthday cards pretty often and it is therapeutic to cut and glue and dream about how I want my card to turn out!

Someday I hope to make a different transformation to "incredible scrapbooking mom."  Apparently I am too intimidated by the vast enormity of 12 x 12 inches in a scrapbook layout?  Maybe I avoid it because of my semi-disastrous attempt at designing digital scrapbook supplies (turns out, at the time, I could either be a mother to my brand new first baby, or have my own personal hobbies and interests--not both!), maybe I know that having a scrapbook would have such a profound impact on my children's lives that I get overwhelmed and psych myself out.

Cards are easier.  Smaller.  Less far reaching.  Plus my neighbor helps me stay motivated.

She started a card group--there are about twelve of us that get together every month (except me...this will be my first month back since baby January...).  We bring 12 cards that we have made, and then we pass them all around and everyone takes one.  Voila, 12 different cards to add to my collection!  It is fun to get inspiration and styles that aren't my own.

This is the card I will be taking next week:

What is your sanity-keeping outlet?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Quick Gift

I've got a post of a more serious nature brewing, but there are a couple more things that need to be taken care of first, so I thought I'd share our latest grandparent birthday present!

I can't take credit for this one--it was Kirby's idea to do it for his parents, but he got the idea from Jamie's Father's Day roundup post HERE.

We wanted to give them something that the girls created that they could display somewhere, and you all know it's totally "in" to have your last name hung somewhere! Why not incorporate some finger painting while you're at it!?

The canvas was $15 after 50% off at JoAnn's. We were looking for a canvas just this size (I think it's something like 1x3 feet? Kirby actually did the purchasing, so I never saw the actual dimensions. I know, I know--how manly is my man to walk into JoAnns all by himself AND use a coupon from the JoAnns app on his phone!?). We had decided, though, that if they didn't have a canvas the size we wanted we could get three smaller canvases and break the last name up into DA-VIS-ON. Would have been fun that way, too! 

Kirby shaped the letters with painter's tape (I know--he's HUH-MAZING!) and then we let the girls go to town. I let Emily pick between an orange/red/yellow color combo or a blue/green/yellow combo. I made sure to pick colors that wouldn't turn into brown if they got mixed. You can see that spot above the V where it's pretty much one solid green color--Emily just kept going over the same spot over and over again. If there had been any complimentary colors in the mix that would have been completely brown. I just stuck each color in a separate paper bowl, but you could definitely just drizzle paint directly onto the canvas and then mix them that way.

The splatters are complimentary of Kirby--husband of the year, yet again. Mr. Artsy! LOVE HIM!

Can you spot Emily's handprint and Sydney's footprint?

Emily thought this project was the coolest thing since fruit snacks, but Syd kept trying to get the paint off her hands. We'd put some on, and she would just try to wipe it off on her belly. 

I had already started to rinse the girls off with the hose when I thought to document how adorable the girls looked, and Sydney was not happy with me. Not at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Delicious Buttermilk Syrup

 Lauren and I grew up across the cul-de-sac from a chef who taught my Mom this delicious recipe.  I know my first thought when I hear buttermilk syrup is "HUH?"   Bet let me tell you--this stuff is incredible!  BEWARE: this is not a low-calorie condiment (is syrup a condiment?) so keep yourself from drinking it plain!  My favorite part of this recipe (besides the taste) is that I always have the ingredients hanging around so it's easy to make whenever I run out!

 The Ingredients
Butter, Sugar, Buttermilk (or milk+lemon juice), Baking Soda, and Vanilla

 What if you don't have buttermilk?
Easy peasy.  For my double batch of syrup, I needed 1 cup of buttermilk.  So I took one cup of milk and added 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice.  I mix this part up very first so it has a couple minutes to buttermilk-ify.  (Yeah--it's a word...).  I love this trick--you can use it anywhere you need buttermilk!  You can also use vinegar, but I like the way lemon juice turns out hands down!

Just a Tip:
Use a bigger pan than you think!  Looking at the recipe, you will think a small saucepan will do the trick.  But there is serious bubble-age here-see?  My double batch barely fit in my four quart pot!

Buttermilk Syrup
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Buttermilk (make your own with 1/2 c. Milk and 1/2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice!)
1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Vanilla

Melt butter in large saucepan (volume of mixture will increase as it boils).  Add buttermilk, sugar, and soda.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil; boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Makes about 2 cups.


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