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Blueberry Pickin’

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Blueberry Pickin’

I got the phone call I wait for every year the other day from my parents!

“The blueberries are ready to pick, honey. Come get all you want.”

Not everyone can say they have their own private blueberry patch. What started out as 4 bushes growing up has morphed into over a dozen through the years, all in various varieties and stages of production.

If you live in the South, you learn pretty quickly to take care of outside activities early–before the heat of the day. So, that’s what we did. We loaded up early to pick. The branches were so full, all I had to do was rake my hand down the clusters of dew-covered berries and they plunked in the bottom of the bucket. In no time, I had a huge “mess” of them to bring home. Of course it took a bit longer than it should have because we had to make several potty breaks, pit stops by the playhouse, and take ‘treacherous’ excursions on the Jeep through the yard–complete with an imaginary bad-guy chase– in order to keep everyone happy.

I seemed to be the only one focused on the REAL reason we were there.

That didn’t stop them from mooching a handful or two…or three…

Apparently, little fuzzy caterpillars have an affinity for blueberry bushes. Did you know that they make little Princesses squeal really loud when they come out of nowhere? I have to admit, they made me curl my toes a few times too.

There are countless recipes for blueberries–pies, buckles, muffins, icecreams, pancakes, even blueberry salsa (not really sold on that idea yet)! While they’re all delicious, none of them can beat a handful of freshly-picked blueberries on top of your morning cereal.

But there is one, my Momma’s Cobbler recipe, that fits this simple summer berry perfectly.

Want to know the secret?

There’s nothing fancy about it.

Anyone who has even a meagerly stocked pantry will have everything to make it. No special trips to the store for gourmet ingredients.

Momma’s Plain and Simple Blueberry Cobbler:

  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 c flour
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c shortening
  • 3 c berries
  • lump of butter
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T flour/cornstarch

On stovetop, cook down the berries butter, sugar and flour/cornstarch until juices thicken slightly.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening. Add milk, stirring until dough forms. On a floured counter top, divide dough in two, and roll out to fit baking pan. (I use an 8×8 baking dish.)

Place the crust in the bottom, add the fruit, then cover with second crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Watermelon Party for my Watermelon lovin’ girl…

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While it would make perfect sense, I didn’t want a Disney Princess party for our little Princess’ 3 rd birthday. She doesn’t even know that section of the party supply store exists. If she did, I’d never hear the end of it. “I just LOVE Wapunzel, Momma! Seepin’ Boody! Air-wee-ul! I want a PWINCESS Party!”

Not that there’s anything wrong with it–she runs around the house in dress-up clothes and heels, multiple times and combinations of accessories a day, mind you–but, selfishly, I had my own plan, and if you know my Princess, you know it’s hard to change her mind when it’s made up. Instead, I opted to sneakily convince her that my plan was her plan…and it worked!

Nothing celebrates summertime like watermelon. I grew up eating it with my Daddy, perched on the armrest of his La-Z-Boy, one yummy bite at at time. That’s when my plan came together.

All it took was to show her a picture of a watermelon cake. After that, she was telling everyone she knew that we were having a Watermelon Party. It seemed like a fitting beginning-of-the-summer party idea.

I love DIY decorating and repurposing everyday things for pennies, so that certainly played a big part in the preparations! I had a hard time finding ideas on Watermelon stuff, so I had to get creative.

Here are a few of my moments of inspiration. Hope you can use them to enjoy SUMMERTIME!

Watermelon Door Decor:

I simply:

  • Spray painted a paper grocery bag red.
  • Cut it out in a Watermelon shape–front and back pieces– with pinking shears.
  • Sponge painted the green and white around the edges.
  • Sewed the two pieces together.
  • Stuffed them with plastic shopping bags that had accumulated,
  • Punched holes to hang from
  • Reinforced the holes with clear tape.
  • Made a hanger with wire.
  • Glued some black buttons on for seeds.
  • Tied a bow for extra flair.

Whew! Done!

Watermelon Garland:

We spent an afternoon while recuperating from Strep throat making these little guys. Paper plates are so stinkin’ cheap. I spent maybe $3 on this whole project, and I had many strands throughout the house! Now, they’re all hanging in the birthday girl’s room…a multi-functional project!

Simply:

  • Sponge paint accordingly.
  • Cut the plates in half
  • Draw on seeds with a marker.
  • Glue to a string or ribbon to hang.

LOVE IT!

Tissue Paper Flowers:

Ever since I saw this tutorial, I wanted to try it. How easy! With a $2.99 pack of tissue paper (remember your 40% Hobby Lobby coupon for even more savings), I had enough supplies to make a dozen flowers–not that I did, I just needed 5 or so. They turned out almost as pretty as the oringinal.

Hint: These are spray-painted. More versatile that way.

They’re are also in her room, above her bed now. Let’s see how long it takes for her brother to attack them with a light saber…

 

I know I had a great time getting ready to celebrate my sweet girl’s big day, and I hope that one day she’ll recall the summer afternoon she spent at her Watermelon Party.

D.I.Y. Juice Can Magnets

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Got kids?

If you’re like me, my fridge is covered with artwork, photos, permission slips and schedules. In reality, it’s probably the Information Hub of the house. I never seem to have enough magnets to go around.

I bet you have some sort of fruit juice in your fridge, too. I know I do. I grew up drinking juice frozen from concentrate, and have carried on the tradition. I know, I know, there are those who think it’s not as natural, or good for you, but it’s much cheaper, and it doesn’t fill up my trash can with big plastic bottles and, besides, the kiddos like stirring it up.

I save the metal lid of the juice can, and after a while can collect quite a stack! That’s when I got the idea to do something with them. Not only am I cheap, I’m resourceful.

There are many projects that I can’t take credit for. As my mother says, “I’m really good at recreating other peoples’ ideas, but not so original myself.” But I’m proud to say, this one’s all mine. It was Christmas-time, and I needed something I could mass-produce for gifts. You can’t go wrong with incorporating your kids’ pictures into a project.

Grandparents eat that stuff up.

Come to think of it, it’s a great Mother’s Day gift for Grandma, or for Teachers as Appreciation Week nears!

Supplies:

  • Spray paint
  • Hot glue gun
  • Magnets
  • Juice can lids
  • Photos
  • Scissors

How To:

  1. Wash and dry the lids thoroughly. (Any residual juice will make for a poor paint finish)
  2. Spray paint the lids your desired color, preferably outside. Allow to dry. I used several coats to ensure good coverage.
  3. Trace a circle on your photo, then cut it out with scissors. I used a small yogurt cup for my stencil. Decorative scissors add a nice touch too.
  4. Using hot glue, adhear the picture to the front, and the magnet to the back. Voila!

You don’t have to stop at photos, I’m going to make some with fabric flowers, buttons, ect glued to the the top! What about chalkboard paint too? Uh-oh. I’m getting inspired as I type. Dangerous…

While this isn’t an overly kid-friendly project (kids+spraypaint and hotglue=disaster), you could sit them down at the table with you to draw some new artwork to display with your new magnets!

I know it’s not rocket-science, but it’s the little touches that make a difference, I think.

Hope you have fun. Thanks for reading.

Lacie

Cake Mix Cookies: Not Quite From Scratch, But Who Cares?

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Cake Mix Cookies:  Not Quite From Scratch, But Who Cares?

Whew! For the moment, my house is germ-free. After several days of self-imposed quarantine, we celebrated our return to normalcy with a kitchen adventure.

I love cake mix recipes.

They’re quick. They’re easy. They’re yummy.

A trifecta of busy-mommy-deliciousness.

Here’s my favorite–a twist on the good ol’ Oatmeal cookie.

So, grab your ingredients, a couple of mess-making assistants, and while you’re at it, put some coffee on–you’ll want some as you enjoy some hot-from-the oven-cookies in a little while!

This recipe card speaks for itself. It makes me laugh. I make these ALOT, if you can’t tell.

A few tips that the recipe card doesn’t give:

  • Roll the dough into 1 inch balls before placing them on a cookie sheet.
  • Flatten the balls with a fork–like you would traditionally do for Oatmeal or Peanut Butter Cookies.
  • These cookies won’t brown. They don’t look done, but they are. Take ’em out!
  • I’ve recently discovered how adding a drizzle of white chocolate adds a flair for gift giving, and an extra “wow” factor for the tastebuds!
Enjoy!

Repurposed Yogurt Cups: 10 other handy uses

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I love yogurt. I eat it almost daily. It’s good for me and it tastes good. If I pretend really hard, I can imagine it’s icecream. ( I said REALLY hard) In fact, the only bad thing about it that I can come up with is all the plastic cups that are left when I’m done scraping the bottom with my spoon.

I resisted the urge to throw the growing stack of yogurt cups away, opting instead to put them to use.

Now, I’m not a recycling finatic, but I am conscious of enviromental issues. I’m forever finding new uses for things. I guess I come by it honestly–I never knew if the butter tub I pulled out of my Mamaw’s fridge actually contained butter, or last night’s chicken-n-dumplin’s, until I peeked under the lid. I’m not ashamed to admit, I haven’t bought Tupperware in years. My drawer is full of Cool-Whip containers, Country Crock tubs, and sour cream cups–for the small stuff.

My husband shook his head at the stack of at least 20 cups that have been multiplying, kindly pointing out that it was overkill. Thankfully, our town has just opened a great recycling drop-off at the fire station. So, I’ll be adding a few of the well-loved yogurt cups to my stack of things to bring by this week. My cabinet space will appreciate it, and my kids will get to see yet another way we “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”

Hope you can add a few of these ideas to your daily routine!

  1. Painting Accessory: Memories of my childhood include watercoloring at the kitchen table with a “Dannon Fruit on the Bottom” cup full of water to rinse our brushes. Now-a-days, I use them for the same thing, with the addition of several colors of fingerpaints and lots and LOTS of newspaper underneath.
  2. Sorting Practice: Something my son has learned at Pre-K is to sort and separate objects based on their similarities and differences. It can be objects of the same color, objects that start with the same letter, certain shaped objects or textures, ect. Something concrete, that they can touch and organize goes a long way in wrapping their little minds around a concept. Set a few cups out and let them sort away!
  3. Circle Stencils: OH, the fun we’ve had with this one! We do a LOT of painting at my house, if you haven’t noticed. You can create colorful polka-dots by simply turning the cups upside down and dunking them in paint. At Christmas, I layed paper plates with different colored paints on the driveway, rolled out a roll of butcher paper and let them stamp away! Once it dried, I had my polka-dotted wrapping paper for the holidays! We’ve done plain white or brown lunch sacks too for gift bags. Super cheap, and so much more fun!
  4. Flower Pots: Just add some potting soil, a seed or two and a couple of assistants who don’t mind getting dirty and you have a great Springtime project to watch unfold on your windowsill. Let them tend to it themselves, adding water every few days. They’ll love watching the results. I spray-painted the cups so they’d be more decorative…
  5. Stacking Toys: I wish I was saving these when my kids were smaller! This is an untested idea, as of right now, but I have a baby nephew with some chubby hands who will be ready to start grabbing and stacking things before you know it!
  6. Bathtub Fun: This one is obvious. Warning: Do not encourage this if you can not handle getting soaked yourself.
  7. Sandcastle Tools: I plan on bringing a stack of them to the lake with us in the near future to mold some pretty amazing turrets for a certain Princess’s castle…
  8. Popcicle Mold: Good ol’ Koolaid or yogurt with a popcicle stick taped in place. That’s what Summertime is all about.
  9. Cookie Cutter: I’ve used this for biscuits, cookies, playdough, ect. Easy for the kids to handle, and yet another way to keep the cups out of the trash.
  10. To-go Snacks: This is probably the biggest use for these little freebies. Perfect for dried cereal, grapes, crackers, raisins, cheese cubes, snack mixes, even chicken fries on occasion. Cup-holder friendly, and easy to grab-and-go off the counter.

If you have more ideas on how to repurpose this handy-dandy little do-dad, leave a comment and share!

Thanks for reading,

Lacie

Valentine Cookies

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Valentine Cookies

Yummy glazed sugar cookies--made from everyday ingredients almost everyone has in the pantry! Keep it simple!

Every year it’s the same. Valentine’s Day rolls around, my husband gets grouchy–claiming that the holiday was a conspiracy of greeting card companies. While he’s out picking out a sappy card for me, me and the kiddos get to baking!

As soon as my little man was big enough to stir, I had him in the kitchen with me. It’s one of the few places in the house where it’s ok to make a mess. In fact, it’s almost necessary! Each holiday we drag out the cookie cutters and get to rolling out our sugar cookies.

The recipe I use is so easy. Simple. It came from one of my Moma’s friends who enjoyed making them with her daughter, and I’d always liked the sound of that. Now, in our new house, I found an old farm table that my Daddy converted into an island. It’s a perfect place for them to sit, measure, stir, and occasionally sneak a taste of the dough. You know they’ve had fun when we’re scrubbing flour out of hair and eyebrows at bedtime!

I’ve learned to mass produce these cookies. Teachers, church programs, family and co-workers come to expect them with each holiday. I never have to sign up for party favors for my kids’ parties. They’ve already filled in my name in the blank next to “Cookies.” A helpful tip: Do NOT place a tupperware container FULL of your painstakingly-hand decorated homemade cookies on the top of the car while you buckle the kids in the car. Chances are, you’ll forget where you put them, and by the time you realize it, they, along with your really nice container are bird food on the side of the highway. Trust me.

Now, the ones the kids help with are NOT the ones that are approved for “public consumption” I keep those at home for us to eat, and wait until they’ve lost interest to make the pretty ones. Theirs are my favorites, though. They’re the ones that are broken and misshapen, with clumpy glaze and suspicious toddler-sized teeth marks in a few!

The best part is the sprinkles. They’re like glitter, adding an extra sparkle to the finished product. Also, like glitter, sprinkles make a MESS! I find them in the strangest places for days after a cookie-making-session. Go figure.

More than the fun of cookies and the delicious reward we get for our hard work, I hope I’m instilling my two kiddos the idea of traditions. They’re still young, but I want them to remember some day the fun of making a huge mess, one February afternoon, instead of taking a nap, eating waaaaay too much sugar and watching the cookies rise through the window of the oven while waiting to hear the timer ding.

Maddie’s Sugar Cookies:

1 c butter

1 1/4 c granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

4 c flour

Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Cream together with a mixer. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to butter mixture. Mix. On a WELL floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with desired shapes. Place on a baking sheet ( I like to use parchment paper to line the pan) Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

8-10 T water

Mix all in a large bowl. The water and extract will dissolve the sugar into the consistency of School Glue. Add food coloring if desired.

Once the cookies are cooled, simply dip the cookie facedown, allow excess to drip back into bowl, and place cookie on cooling rack to dry. Protect your counter with a baking sheet or dish towel. Top with desired sprinkles.

I actually had to measure the glaze ingredients out today for this recipe. I usually just eyeball it.

Enjoy!

Little hands

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One of the first craft projects I did with my children were things revolving around their handprints. Finger paint and toddlers just seemed like a fun way to spend the afternoon. I learned the hard way that just stripping them down to diapers was the easiest way to go. Those little hands are quite amazing! There’s nothing sweeter than a newborn wrapping it’s hand around your finger. They seemingly transform overnight from those chubby-slobber-covered-hands into dirty, grimy-just-dug-a-hole-in-the-flower-bed hands. Whatever the stage, I decided some time ago to capture those things in paint! They think it’s great fun, and I get a keepsake from this sweet time in their lives.

I found the canvases at Walmart–a 3 pack for $5 or so. You can’t beat that! Good ol’ construction paper or cardstock works great too. Just ask our refrigerator!

So get out your paint, roll up your sleeves, and make some memories!

Here are a few projects we’ve done over the last few months…