Saturday, August 1, 2020

Milk freezing


No milk was wasted during this photoshoot...but reused to make a delicious latte! 


So I posted on my IG account about freezing milk.  However, when I froze milk the first time I just split one gallon into two gallons.  Milk does expand, so you want to make sure you have room for it to do so.  After wanting to use the milk that I froze, to get it out of my freezer,  I realized how much that was to try and use up all at once.  I ended up making 4 batches of muffins and used it for my homemade gravy for supper of biscuits and gravy.  And then I STILL had a cup or so left.

So I decided there has to be a better way to freeze milk in smaller batches.  Then one day, I was looking at my cupcake pan and realized that would be perfect!  So I froze milk in my cupcake pans.   Now you can also freeze it in ice cube trays.  I did that before when I was nursing, but if you want a little bit more at once then the cupcake pans hold a little more.  I measured to see what the difference was, and ice cube trays hold about 1/8 cup, whereas the cupcake pans could hold between 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of milk, depending on how much space you want left in the rim.



1/3 cup of milk 



1/4 cup of milk 

Ok so I also said I' share some recipes that I found to use up that milk. One of our favorites was making muffins. 

This is our go to recipe for making muffins.  If you are familiar with Malt o Meal, they have a muffin recipe printed on the side of their box.  It really does make good muffins plus it calls for 3/4 cup of milk.  So if you froze your milk as 1/4 cups in the muffin pans, it'd be easy to use. 

When I was looking up muffin recipes I found this one on Pinterest and we really liked it.  We did just make 12 regular sized muffins instead of the 6 jumbo ones, but I didn't have to do anything different, the recipe worked as is I just divided the batter into 12 muffins.  This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of milk.  So again if you go with the 1/4 cup it's really easy to just take out 2 frozen milk muffins.

3. Biscuits and gravy. 
So I LOVE biscuits and gravy.  My mom is from the south and whenever we visited Grandma, she would make homemade biscuits and gravy.  It is something that we have continued to do, although I don't make homemade biscuits.  (It's something I want to learn though).  But, we have biscuits and gravy at least once a month!  Making homemade gravy is a perfect way to use up frozen milk, especially when you freeze it in larger quantities. 

Ok before I give you our recipe I want to say I'm not going to be able to give you accurate measurements as I don't measure (just like my grandma & mom).  BUT, I DO measure the milk and I can give you guidelines for the rest. 

Our recipe: 
grease from meat you are using (bacon, sausage) (about 1 Tbsp)
flour (about 2 Tbsp) 
milk 2 cups

This is what I do for my family of 5, who includes my husband, myself, our 3 girls 7, 5 & 2 1/2.   

Now, if you want to make more, you can.  When we have other family members over, like aunts and uncles, grandparents etc. I add 1 cup of milk.  Then you'd need to add a little more flour and grease as well.  More flour the thicker it will get as you let it cook, more milk the thinner it will be.  It's totally a preference kind of thing. 

Put your measured out milk on the stove before you start.  This helps the milk to warm up and not clump.  Take the grease that you are using and put in a skillet.  Heat to medium and start adding your flour. Mix the grease and the flour together until it's mixed well.  Turn the heat down to low.  Slowly add the milk to the mixture.  Turn the heat up a little and stir.  The longer you let it cook the more it will thicken; however, if it doesn't thicken enough, just add a little more flour.  Remember more flour = thicker gravy, more milk = thinner gravy.  Add the meat you wanted at the end and enjoy! Or go meatless!  I don't add any seasonings as I feel the grease is enough seasoning, but you can add some pepper and salt if you so please. 

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bubbles



Did you know???  You can make your own bubbles!!  Ok, so before you say, yes I know this.  Did you really know...how EASY it is?  Anyone out there have pins on homemade bubbles;  but then realize wait, I don't have...glycerine and so then your pin sits there pinned and you continue to buy bubbles. 

Well, what if I were to tell you, you can make homemade bubbles that work great without anything extra you don't have?! 







So here's the crazy super easy way to make homemade bubbles. 


What you'll need: 

1. Container of some sort (we've been using old ketchup bottles, it makes it really easy for the kids to pour it out.) 


2. Soap: I put in a few tablespoons 



3. Water: Fill the rest of the bottle with water. 



THAT'S IT!! 


 



Little bit of soap, some water and you are ready to blow some bubbles!  If it seems it isn't bubbly enough, just add a little more soap. 

What I really like about this is that after the bubbles are gone, you can just add more water and it still works!  After about the 3rd time, I usually need to add more soap again.  





Monday, April 20, 2020

Spring Break @ home







So I was thinking about Spring Break the other week.  As most of you, we didn't have one either.  Ours is usually in early April, but it wasn't until recently that things were starting to hit more and I was thinking about Spring Break.  Spring Break also usually falls around Easter for us as well and so we were preoccupied with trying to keep Easter as real as possible.  But, here we are a month into staying at home other than some essentials and I thought why can't we have a Spring break? 

My girls love to play traveling, anytime they play together they end up going somewhere; the library, the grocery store, to visit family.  They play what we've done as a family or what my husband and I have done.  This last summer my husband and I went to Paris and London, well guess what my girls played after we came back?  They wanted to pretend it all!  To be on a plane, with seatbelt bells, the captain speaking in a muffled speaker and even the snacks!  

So, what if you took next week as a Spring Break trip!  Plan a different place everyday.  This doesn't have to be a long trip, I understand trying to balance life and school.  I have 3 girls, one doing 1st grade school work, one doing some preschool school work and one doing preschool play as she's only 2 1/2, but wants to be like her sisters.  So, I get the trying to find time for all these things people are posting about.  The fun thing about this is it can last the whole week, it can be just a day or two, but really it doesn't have be more than what you need for the day. Really 1 hour playtime at most, or more if you want, just some time set aside for a trip together.  Below I have lots of different ideas, once I started thinking they just kept coming, I think I'm ready to do some traveling myself!  


Pre-trip: 

First: Decide, where are you going? Is it close?  Will you need to fly instead of drive?
Second:  Make a list of places you may stop at while you're there. (itinerary for older kids) 
Third: If you travel to another country, find it on a map or globe. 

Transportation: 

Go through the steps as your kids can. These are just guidelines, you may only get on the plane and get back off!  

Car:

fasten your seatbelts
Drive for a bit and then arrive 

Plane:

turn in ticket*
find seat
Captain welcomes passengers 
take-off 
seatbelt bell ~ fasten your seatbelts
seatbelt bell ~ you are free to move around the cabin. (this was my girls favorite part) 
snack cart! 
turbulence 
seatbelt bell ~ fasten your seat belts 
landing 

*you could have a ticket for the plane or car.  You could have a punch card that gets a punch every time you visit a place!  So many options for what you could add, or keep it simple! 


Spring Break Stops: 

1. Visit the Library 

Grab some books and put on a book self or a place that they can set on.  Grab some old gift cards as your library card, or use your real one if you have one.  Go to the library, check out some books and even take some time to read them.  Or, take them back to your car, train or plane and read them as you go to your next destination.  Take turns playing the librarian even! 




2. Go to a Movie 

Make some popcorn, grab some treats and a special drink. Set it all out on a counter or tray.  Arrive at the movie, get your ticket punched (if you chose to do tickets), grab some goodies and watch a movie together!  




3. Go to an Ice Cream Parlor 

So when my husband was a kid, his mom made an Ice Cream Shop.  They could come and ask for a malt, or ice cream or frozen treat during the time the Ice Cream Parlor was open.  What if you set up an Ice Cream shop to stop at?  Keep it simple, ice cream on cones or in bowls.  The fun is in the trip and the treat! 

4. Go to a Bakery 

Can't do ice cream, or want to do something different.  Pretend you are stopping at a bakery, grab a cookie and special drink! 

5. Visit Family

Have family you haven't seen for awhile, pretend to go to where they live to visit.  Maybe even use this time to zoom call them or FaceTime with them!  

6. Visit the Zoo 

Take a trip to the zoo via your computer by watching some zoos live! OR, set up a zoo in your room using stuffed animals. Take time to walk through and see each one's favorite animal!  For older kids, have them make a map of the zoo too! 




7. Visit the Science Center 

So I was sent this fun idea to do space camp from a close family member.  She found this blog post on space camp for toddlers.  It's such a great idea, it's what sparked the Spring break theme!!  If you have a space enthusiast how fun would Space camp be for Spring Break!! 

8. Go to the Pool 

If it's warm enough, set up your kiddie pool outside and take a trip to the pool!  Use your Ice Cream Parlor again, but make some fun popsicles too to choose from!  





9. Go to a Restaurant 

Plan a special trip to a fun restaurant that you enjoy.  Like a local hamburger joint, make some hamburgers and fries.  Put a fun table cloth on the table, maybe even some coloring pages with crayons like the kids' menus.  Order like you would at a restaurant and enjoy your "eating out" in your own home! 


10. Go to a Carnival 

Visit a carnival, have some indoor carnival games.  Grab some pop bottles and playing bowling.  Grab some empty plastic containers and a bouncy ball and try to make the ball bounce in the containers.  Blow up balloons and try to keep them up for a minute.  Go outside and have make a obstacle course to follow. Have prizes, have popcorn, have fun!

11. Go to a show/ball

My girls like to put on dance performances, or shows.  They dress-up in their princess costumes and dance.  Could you go to a ball?  Or have one family member perform a show? Magic? Dance? 



12.  Plan to visit another Country. 

Use the above places to learn about from that country! For example, go to Paris for the week and visit a bakery, and then a restaurant, and a museum.  Did you know you could do a virtual tour of most museums?  Pick a country and take some time to learn about it as you go through your week!  Or visit a couple different countries.  Hop on the plane and then the train to travel between countries.  





So here are some options for days if you wanted to follow a more detailed plan.  But, remember the fun part is coming up with what you want to do as a family so pick what works for your crew! 

Monday: Head to the library to grab some books & then visit family, then check out the science center. 
Tuesday: Stop at the local bakery for some tasty treats & then visit the zoo 
Wednesday: Hop on a plane to visit another country, while there check out their local museum and eat lunch at a local pizzeria. 
Thursday: Hop back on the plane to come home and visit a carnival. 
Friday: Go to the pool and then head to the movie theatre! 
Saturday: Don't forget to take those books back that you checked out! 




Thursday, April 9, 2020

Homemade Pizza



***Photo: Taken in Paris at a cute pizzaria we ate at, so no not homemade, but it was delicious and this is what I strive for with my homemade pizzas***

Recently I did a post on my IG account about homemade pizza.  I wanted to share a little more about how we make our homemade pizzas and what we are doing with Friday pizza nights currently.

First of all, with all the COVID-19 going on and trying to support our local businesses we really wanted to make sure we were being involved in that.  We wanted to model wise spending to our kids, but also modeling how to help out as well.  We switched gears on our weekly Friday night pizza nights.  Instead of making our homemade pizzas we added ordering pizza from our local pizza place. However, instead of spending money each week on eating out, which is not something we could afford prior to COVID-19, we adopted a combo.

We make a couple of homemade pizzas AND we order a pizza.  We might not be spending a lot, but we are contributing what we can to help support our local businesses.  We also try to support another food chain once a week or once every other week as well.

SO, how do we make our homemade pizzas?  Well I've used a couple different recipes throughout the years.  The most current one is pretty simple, although it does call for yeast and I know that is pretty low or scare at the moment.  But, if you have some in your cabinet, you can use the following recipes.  

If you don't have any yeast, you can check out this yeast-free pizza crust recipe from
A Beautiful Mess. 

This first one was given to me by a friend a few years ago.  It's the one I have been using most currently and I like it because it's so simple.  It's great for needing make a quick pizza crust. 

1 C whole wheat flour 
1 1/2 C white flour 
1 tsp garlic salt 
Lots of oregano/italian seasoning/basil 
1 C warm water 
2 tsp yeast 
2 Tbsp Olive oil

Mix and knead all ingredients together let it sit for 5 min. 
Roll dough out into pizza shape
brush with garlic salt/oil 
stab holes in dough
par bake @ 425-450 for 5 min. 

Add sauce, cheese, toppings and bake @ 425 for 15 min. 
ENJOY!! 


This second one, I found on Pinterest years ago.  I am sharing this one because not only does the author of this blog share the recipe, but they also show how to make your pizzas a head of time and freeze them, so you have your own homemade frozen pizzas on hand.  This was such a huge time and money saver for me.  I would take a day and make a bunch of pizzas and freeze them for the month.  I was so appreciative of this post, I hope it can help you too. 

Homemade pizza Storage by The Good Ship Lollipop 

Pizza dough recipe by: The Good Ship Lollipop 


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stain glassed window art





So a friend of mine passed this idea to me and I was instantly ready to plan it out for my girls.  Apparently, this is something that is trending around Facebook right now.  But, after our experience with it I thought I would share some tips and tricks to make it fun and not stressful.  Plus, share the how-to that I did.  


So let's get started:

What you will need: 

tempera paint or finger paint (we used both) 
plastic containers ( we used old yogurt containers) 
paintbrushes
dish soap 
painter's tape 
scissors  (to cut the tape) 
wax paper 
paper towels (damp) 


First: Tape your design





Now depending on how you want it to look, tape off your window while your kids are sleeping or being entertained by something else.  This for me was the hardest part, I also only had thick tape so I had to cut it each time, but after a bit I just let it be how it was and in the end it turned out pretty well.  There's no right way to make designs, it's just how you want.  If your kiddos are older maybe they can design their own first.

TIP: tape the edges of the windows too, the paint WILL come off even after dry because of the soap and that its water based, but the less you have to remove later the better.




TIP: I also taped some wax paper to the bottom to catch any drips. (don't have wax paper, take the bag from a cereal box and use it, you can see my how-to on that here.)  We have laminate so it comes right off, but if you have carpet this will help, you can also add towels on the floor too. 



Look at all those drips it catches! 



 

Second: Mix your paint


Pick your colors and have a container for each color.  Then add a few squirts of soap to each container.  You can't really add too much, so if you are concerned add a little more. 


Third: PAINT! 





So I did add some towels to the floor because I just wanted to make sure, but we ended up with two containers spilling and it ALL wiped off the laminate just fine.  I haven't washed the towels yet, good thing I used old ones!  BUT, if you have carpet, I'd put something down, we did get some paint on the rug and it came out, but I didn't let it sit and it's hard to clean up as they paint.  BUT, this is the fun part, put on some old paint shirts, give them a paint brush and let them have a blast! 







Fourth: Clean-up 


So clean-up is pretty easy, the wax paper caught any drips from hitting the walls.  The floor wiped up real easily, as I said above and they used most of the paint I poured so it wasn't too bad.  The next day I found a couple spots I missed on the wood and it came up with a damp paper towel no problem.  

TIP: only use paper towels unless you want your washcloths paint stained.  Even though it's washable it might not all come out in the washer. 




TIP: If you have a enough paint left over, don't put it down your sink, mix it all together in one container and throw it away.  It will harden and clog the sink.  A little isn't bad, but make sure you use a lot of warm or hot water to keep it flushed down. 


Fifth: Ready to take down


Now we plan to leave ours up for awhile, but I wanted to include how to remove once you are ready to do so.  Years ago when I taught art we use to decorate the windows of our community building for our local Winterfest.  I used this same method for putting the paint on the windows and it was pretty easy to clean off.  

All you need is to first remove your tape. Then a simple window cleaner will remove it.  Or you can use wet paper towels and then wash your windows afterwards.  

Well I hope this helps and I hope you have fun with it rather than it become stressful.  It's one of those things you want your kids to have fun with paint, but it's easy to stress out about it getting places and being permanent!  Overall my girls enjoyed it! And it's really pretty to look at, at night from outside! 



Thursday, March 19, 2020

The "New Normal"

I just wanted to share our "new normal", as most of you are dealing with this as well.  It's crazy how much I'm seeing on social media.  I know that this COVID-19 has us quarantined for a bit, but then I watch Facebook, Instagram or even check my email and it's all over! So many families having to stay home due to this virus.  So much panic, so much fear!  BUT, amongst that there is so much love, so much joy!  I LOVE seeing all the funny posts about being quarantined with the family!  I LOVE seeing the posts of people offering help to anyone who can't get out of their house, or can't find childcare.  Most of all I LOVE that even though this can be scary for some, overall we are standing together and helping, encouraging and lifting each other up! 

Well, I was definitely lifted up this week as I took my girls over to their Nana's house.  This was day 2 of the quarantine and really my girls didn't no any different except that they weren't in school.  But, the stress was there.  We had a little rough morning, while we weren't keeping to my plan entirely, I thought I was making it flexible, but really I was still stuck on the time.  

The night that my daughters' school canceled I was on the computer typing up what I thought to be a great schedule.  We were NOT, going to miss getting anything done.  We were going to have all the important things on the schedule along with some fun activities.  We WERE going to make this work and get through it.  Honestly, I should replace the word we with I.  I was sure,  I was going to be that super mom that had it all together even though there was something big happening.  I mean, I didn't feel I needed to worry for our health we aren't in the risk area, so I just needed to keep things normal.  But, when the girls are used to going to school everyday, how was I supposed to keep it normal?  When the days they don't have school due to a snow day or vacation day, we don't have a crazy schedule, so why now?  But I felt we needed and I was going to make it happen.   

So anyways, I drop my girls off at Nana's and when she asks how the day is going, I break down.  All I could say was my schedule is not working and I wasn't sure why! I made sure I scheduled play time, book time, homework time, cleaning, and even snack time!  But it seemed I was always behind the time or something came up so I was trying to re-work it.  My mother-in-love is pretty awesome and so we were able to drink some coffee and talk through what wasn't working and try something different. 

See for me, I wanted to control the chaos.  If my schedule was planned to the T, then I knew what was coming next as would my kids.  BUT, since I planned out specific times for things it was hard to allow for change.  Or for a phone call I wanted to answer without feeling like I didn't have time because in 2 minutes we were going to do fill in the blank.  

Now, I have to say, in my everyday life a more structured schedule works well, because we HAVE to be at certain places at certain times.  J gets out of school at 11:30, A needs picked up by 3:45.  Those things are a given and so a normal schedule we have more structured time.  But, when we are quarantined and don't have a time we have to be somewhere then why make such a structured schedule. 

So, I left my mother-in-love's house, got my things I needed to do checked off an then I re-vamp-ed my schedule.  I am on day two of this new schedule and we have had less stress already.  Today alone, we did homework, played dress up, did laundry, took baths (which on the other schedule would have stressed me to try and find time for in the morning) got ready, ate lunch, read books, went to Nana's, made paper Easter eggs, baked banana bread, had supper, and played!

SO, I wanted to share all this to say, right now your "new normal" is only temporary.  We are going to get through this.  Don't be like me and stress yourself with trying to make things tight scheduled, enjoy this time, enjoy these extra days with your family if you don't normally stay at home all together.  Find something fun to do, and make a new vague schedule and see how it goes!  

Here are my two schedules, the first is the more by the minute schedule, the second one is a list of things divided by morning, afternoon and evening.  This way I can still get done what I want, but if the girls are playing well without me I go ahead and do my chores, or if they want to play with me then we have play time and I do my chores later.  Book time happens when it happens and homework is done when she's ready, which is usually right after breakfast :) 







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