Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Day -- Not Just A Day Off!

By Melody

Labor Day is actually more than a day off of work.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I love that perk -- a  chance to spend a little more time with the family and appreciate the jobs that we have, especially in the economy as it stands now.  My husband and I are grateful for our jobs, the communities we live in, and the communities we come from. 

How do we get our kids to realize the importance of Labor Day?  Well, when it comes to my kiddos, it's PROJECT TIME!  So, I found a cool site that has all types of crafts for various holidays ( 

I chose to do two Labor Day projects just perfect for a creative three and four year old.  From start to finish, it was a good hour spent with the kids and the time flew by.  Both projects sprout conversations with your little ones regarding recognition of workers that contribute to our community (Project:  Occupation Collage); and an important lesson on giving back (Project: Helping Hand).

Check out my videos via: (Making an Occupation Collage) (Giving a Helping Hand
My apologies for my poor camera equipment, but you'll get the gist...

All you need is stuff you probably have around the house already:
  • Construction Paper;
  • Colors/Markers;
  • Stickers;
  • Scissors;
  • Tape; and
  • Glue Stick.
When doing the Occupation Collage you can start conversations regarding mom and dad's careers; grandparents' careers; ask them what they want to do when they grow up.  The kids collages ended up very cute.  Emma focused mostly on the mail man; Jakson incorporated a variety of careers. 


When doing the Helping Hand project, I told the kids that part of being party of a community is not only contributing by doing your part, or your job; but it is also giving back to your community by helping others.  Helping others that may have helped you, or helping others that can't help themselves for any reason.  I asked them about people that have helped them, and who they'd like to help back by maybe giving that person a "Helping Hand".  It was a fun conversation, and I was suprised at how interested they were in both projects.

This project was easy, fun, educational, and a good lesson for young children about Labor Day.  Also, probably a good refresher for me, too.

The only unfortunate thing that came from the "Helping Hand" project is when the kids started hitting each other with their paper hands...thankfully, that occurred after filming. 

Decorative plates

Decorate dollar store plates

Review by Lyndee
In my head this was going to be the coolest present my Grandma Jean ever received. The instructions were simple:  Buy a plate from Dollar Store, write on it with a Sharpie marker, bake at 150 for 30 minutes and it is permanent! I bought a plate and a coffee mug for a whopping $2 and invested in some new sharpies since the ones at our house or pretty hit and miss to complete projects.  The thing about new sharpies?  They have a very fine tip and I had a pretty large plate.  I wanted to do a family tree of sorts on the plate for grandma.  Then realized, with almost 50 people in the family, it was going to be hard to fit everyone’s names on it.  Yes, I said 50. When you have 8 kids that have their own kids which married and had their own kids, you’re looking at needing a turkey platter instead of a plate.  I really hope I didn't forget any of the cousins because I will never hear the end of it.  I tried to draw a heart, diamond, spade and club on the coffee mug because my grandma loves cards and it’s one of my favorite activities to do with her.  Let’s just say, I am not an artist.  The plate and mug both look like a 3rd grade art project.  I suck at drawing and free hand.  Next time, I will try using stencils so that I can make bigger, thicker letters and a much prettier design.  Knowing my grandma she will enjoy this less than perfect creation anyway because, let’s face it, the woman loves the crap out of me.  So hopefully she appreciates the homemade-ness and thought and love put into it.  After I baked the plates and mug and they had cooled, I ran them under water and toweled them off to see if it was indeed permanent and “baked on” now.  That part was a success.  I haven’t put it in the dishwasher or anything yet but I will leave that up to grandma after she uses them.  I will definitely try this again for a few Christmas presents because I have a great idea for my dad, brother and uncles. Stencils and I are going to become BFF's.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Diaper Tricycle -- Diaper Cakes are so Five Years Ago

By Melody

When my sister was having her first child, I had so much fun helping her sister-in-law plan her baby shower.  Sweet SIL allowed me to take on the task of providing some decorations.  And, so my search on Pinterst began.  And, among all the diaper cakes, I came upon a photo on Pinterest (with a bad link -- I hate it when someone posts a bad url or to amazon or something...grrrr).

Luckily, I found the perfect tutorial for the diaper bike via  And for the diaper tricycle, I was able to find a great tutorial via

The tutorials by both bloggers are great.  However, be warned that it does take a little time and a little patience.  When you're finished you may need to do a few tucks here and there, and hide some safety pins to hold things in place.  But, overall, they were pretty simple and ended up being one of the most talked about gifts/centerpieces at the shower, and they doubled as decorations.

This project could be expensive, but you can also find a lot (if not all) of the items at Dollar General, and I was able to purchase everything there....from the diapers to the bibs, burp clothes, and blankets to the teddy bear topper.  Gotta love those wonderful dollar stores!

My sister loved it so much, that it still sets in my little nephews bedroom decorating his room.  I would definitely recommend this for any baby shower.  You can easily incorporate themes when decorating these bikes, and you can throw in a couple mini diaper cakes for you old-fashioned types out there. 
Here is a picture of my diaper two-wheeler -- I had so much fun with this project!!

And, here is the only photo I could find of the diaper tricycle...

Scotcharoo Cookies

1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups peanut butter
4 cups Rice Krispies
48 Hershey's Chocolate Kisses

In a heavy large sauce pan, bring to a boil Karo and sugar; take off the burner. Add peanut butter and quickly stir until smooth and creamy. Add Rice Krispies and stir until completed incorporated with the peanut butter mixture. Quickly spoon mixture onto waxed paper and immediately press a Hershey's chocolate kiss in the center. Let cool completely not to disturb the Hershey's chocolate kiss before storing in an air tight container.

Review By Lyndee:
When I saw this pin I was so excited to try them. I LOVE scotcharoo bars.  I could eat an entire pan if I tried. They are one of my favorite treats ever.  My mom makes them for us all the time but I have never been able to perfect them like her.  The scotcharoo part goes ok but the frosting is usually a disaster.  The beauty of these cookies is I don’t have to frost them!  And it’s portion control because I can’t cut a piece of the bars the size of a brick. I can just have one chewy, delicious cookie!  And I didn’t have to deal with the mess of greasing up my hands and pressing the substance into a cake pan.  Hello spoon, meet wax paper, flatten and set cookie on top.  I think the kids could’ve made these on their own without me. 
It cost me $2.50 for karo syrup, $2.50 for rice cereal and $4 for the Hershey’s kisses.  I already had peanut butter and sugar at home and I have a plethora of cereal and karo left for other projects.  One batch made about 2 dozen cookies.  You can make it more or less depending on the size you chose.  Mine are about 2 inches in diameter. 
The kids and I put these together in under 10 minutes. They had fun putting the kisses on cookie and loved the outcome.  All five of the Hugen’s give this multiple thumbs up.  It may have even beat out the strawberry yogurt bundt cake as the favorite experiment so far.  If you are looking for a quick, extremely easy and totally tasty treat to take to your next gathering, this is it.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cake Mix Rice Krispy Bars -- Not Worth the Calories

Review by Melody:
Tried these last night with the kiddos.  It was a fun, easy project to do with the kids.  However, after making them, I really didn't taste too much of a difference when comparing them to a regular krispy bar.  These were a bit chewier, had sprinkles, and had a 1/3 cup of cake mix mixed in with the marshmallows as they melted.  More importantly, you use only 1/3 cup of a cake mix, so you're left with the rest of a cake mix.  To use up the rest of the mix, I opted to make cake mix cookies, as suggested by the posting blogger.  They turned out okay, but I'd rather a chocolate chip cookie.  I don't think I'll try either of these again, and instead, I'll opt for the classic rice krispy bar version. 

The pin originated from  Overall, I would suggest this to someone who likes very chewy bars, and is looking for a little...very subtle...twist.  But, for those of us who are pressed for time, and lack a cake mix in our cupboards...stick with the original version. 

This recipe left me with bars and cookies that are still setting on the kitchen counter.  I'm eating them, more or less, to get rid of them.  Heading to the treadmill right after this post.   

If you're interested in trying them yourself, here's what you do...

  • 3 T Butter
  • 1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup cake mix (I used Funfetti.  The original recipe calls for Yellow.)
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies
  • Sprinkles (2.75 ounces - I didn't use the exact amount).

Melt the butter, then add the marshmallows.  Once the marshallows begin to melt.  Add the cake batter gradually with a spoon, so that you can be assured the cake mix is distributed evenly.

Add, the rice krispies once the marshmallows have melted, and add the sprinkles you've selected.  Then, spread the mixture in a greased/sprayed 9x13 dish.  Then, add the rest of the sprinkles (as shown below by my assistant, JJ). 

Here's our finished product...

We made the cake mix cookies by mixing the remaining cake mix, 1/2 cup oil, and two eggs.  Then, placed them in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.   

Instant New Furniture via Slipcovers

Review by Melody:
My living room has been pretty much the same since we moved into the place.  That was darn near ten years ago now.  The couches are even older than that -- a purchase I made after graduating college (you don't need to know how long ago that was, though).  And since bringing home our two bundles of joy from the hospital three and four years ago, those couches have seen their fair share of spills, spit-up, you name it.  We know we are in for more colorful stains appearing on our furniture for a few more years, so we've elected to wait for a new furniture purchase until the kids are a bit older...and less sloppy.  So, a good way to transform a room from drab to fab, on a tight budget, and in no time at all...opt for slipcovers.  I would suggest searching the internet for something that you'd like to try.  You can find more of a variety, better prices (larger clearance items available), and colors (dark if your home contains toddlers, or other messy dwellers).  I would suggest,,, or any other store that is within driving distance for ease of return.  Most of these stores have a "ship to store" option so the shipping is FREE!  So, you can return it if the color isn't what it looked like on line, or doesn't fit like you'd want.  Please feel free to contact me via a comment or our FB link, if you have questions regarding sizes to order, or whatever.  Also, please check for additional promotional codes you could use to save even more when you order.  For your viewing pleasure, here are pictures of my "old" and "new" living room...

The love seat...


The sofa...

The recliner...

Buffalo chicken & potato casserole

Buffalo Chicken & Potato Casserole found at

1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 c. Franks buffalo sauce
5c. potatoes, grated w/ box grater
1 c. light ranch dressing/ blue cheese
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. panko

 Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Grate potatoes and lay out and pat with a paper towel to try to get some of the moisture out.
In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and buffalo sauce. Spoon into baking dish in a single layer.
In the same bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spread over chicken. Sprinkle panko evenly over the top.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Review by Lyndee
This was a pretty tasty casserole.  It takes a bit to cook.  It was almost an hour and a half from start to finish so make sure you have plenty of time.  It’s definitely not a last minute throw together meal for the family.  I ran out of Frank’s so I had to use some Tapatio which added a bit more kick (or so my tongue says).  I used frozen hashbrowns, fat free ranch , 2% reduced fat shredded cheese and bread crumbs instead of panko since I had those on hand and I was trying to make it a little healthier.  If you want, you could do a pound and a half of chicken to make it heartier and add protein.  Overall it was very good and I will make it again. I shared a bite of my lunch with my friend Jill and she was a big fan.  I’m bringing her some of the leftovers tomorrow so two thumbs up from Jill and I.   

Skirt to shirt

By Lyndee:
Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I don’t have a lot of fashion sense.  I like looking at what other people wear but when I’m getting ready in the morning, fashion faux pas and rules do not cross my mind. I’m a comfort over cuteness kind of girl. I saw this skirt in goodwill the other day and for some reason I thought, hey, Melody and I can probably make something out of that on our Pinterest Princess Experiment Sunday funday! I paid the $3 and was on my way. 

I could tell by Melody’s face when she saw it, she wasn’t exactly on the same page.  But by the end, she was a fan and the best part?  No sewing!  Just a scissor and a two safety pins.  First we removed the liner so that it was the sheer skirt.  We cut the slit a little higher and tried about 4 different ways to slip it on, around and wrap it.  I put my head through the hole on the top of the skirt and left it over one shoulder.  

We cut a hole in the side of the skirt to put my arm through.  Make sure you have enough room to raise your hand if needed.  We bunched the side that was over the shoulder and fastened it with a Walmart hair clip that was a copper/brown color.  Then we took the two “flaps” where we had enlarged the slit and fastened them beneath the arm pit or the exposed shoulder.  Walla! We had a fun new shirt I could wear out with jeans.  Add some funky turquoise jewelry and I am ready to hit the town! Of course, I will do my hair and makeup before I head out and about.  No worries.  

Caramel Apple Crockpot Cake

Caramel Apple Crockpot Cake

-2 cans of apple pie filling
-1 jar of caramel ice cream topping
-1 box of butter pecan cake mix - dry mix only, no eggs, milk, or etc.
-1 stick of butter - cut up

Place ingredients in to crockpot in the order listed above.


Cover and cook on high for two hours and serve with ice cream or whipped cream on top. Can be refrigerated and reheated.

Review by Rachael:
This may be the easiest and yummiest (yes – Yummiest!!) recipe I have ever made!
It truly is as simple as buying the ingredients above & placing them in your slow cooker. (It is a little sweet so depending on your taste you may want to only use ½ a jar of caramel ice cream topping.)

Place the apple pie filling in the bottom of the crock pot, then pour the caramel topping on, add the dry mix from the cake and last but not least cut up the butter to place on top. 

Cover, turn on high and let it cook for two hours. It’s hard to not lift the lid during this time because it smells so amazing you want to see if it’s done already! But try to leave it alone so it’s done in the two hour timeframe.

When it has completed cooking it is still in layers, I mixed it all up before serving so that each person was able to get a little of each amazing layer. My way might not look as pretty but still taste scrumptious! 

I added a scoop (or 2) of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping and welcome to heaven!!!!! Rave reviews from all that have tried this dessert. It’s too easy and delicious not to try this one!! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our first fail

Saturday I made the crockpot lasagna from  We knew in the beginning that not everything we tried was going to turn out perfect.  Hence, the need for the experiments.  This was to be our first fail. 

Slow Cooker Lasagna Recipe

1 lb. lean ground beef (could be substituted for Italian sausage)
1 (24 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese (can use skim ricotta)
1 pkg. Kraft Italian Cheese (approx. 2 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons parsley
6 regular lasagna noodles, uncooked

Brown meat in large skillet; drain.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and water.  Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups Kraft Italian cheese, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, egg and parsley.

Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with 3 lasagna noodles, broken to fit; and half of cheese mixture.  Cover with 2 cups meat sauce.  Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit; cheese mixture and meat sauce.  Cover with lid.

Cook on low 4-6 hours or until liquid is absorbed.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted.

Lyndee’s Review:
This was our most expensive project to date at around $13.  It was easy to make.  It smelled great and looked amazing when I put in the crockpot.  So where did we go wrong?  I put it on 8 hours low autosetting on my crock because I had to leave and that was my best choice. I asked the 15 year old of the house to make sure to turn it off before she left for her church activity which would’ve been a perfect 4 hour cooking.  When I returned eight hours later I could smell the disaster as soon as I walked in the house.  She had forgotten to turn it off and I know had a brick of pasta in the crockpot.  It was not salvageable.  So although it was easy and it looked great when we started, I was not able to actually taste and rate this.  I will have to try again down the road.  

Make up remover

Eye make up remover can be pretty pricey, even the generic stuff!  So we tried a pin for do it yourself this weekend.  The best part of the experiment?  We let a four year old do the make-up application and then tested our concoction to see if it really worked to remover her, um, masterpiece.  This was so easy to and cheap to make!  Generic remover can cost over $5 a bottle and we made this for pennies. 

DIY Eye Make Up Remover:
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons Tear Free Baby Shampoo
1/8 teaspoon Baby Oil.
Directions:  Add all ingredients into a small bowl and stir. Shake before every use.  
The cost was maybe 10 cents for the batch.  Baby oil and baby shampoo are $1 each at the Dollar Tree and the batch we made would last for months and didn’t use hardly any of our supply. Store the liquid in a baby jar, yogurt container or old make up remover bottle. Just shake before using and enjoy! It was less oily than typical ones we have bought in stores so that's a plus too.  

But more importantly, did it work?  Watch our video to see Emma Jean applying makeup to her mommy Melody and whether or not this remover was strong enough to get it back off!!

Halter top t-shirt

A fun flirty halter top from a $2 T-shirt bought at Goodwill. Does it sound to good to be true? Lucky for you, it's not! We started with instructions from a pinterest pin at  I had seen my friend Monica (our crafty fairy godmother) do this to a friend’s shirt one night at a bar. No sewing, just a scissor. But could Melody and I pull this off when we have no real crafty skills?  We started by chalking off what we would cut away and then began the video.


This really was very simple.  We made the shirt for $2 and it was less than a 10 minute project.  Throw this on with jeans and some chunky jewelry and you’re set for a fun, comfortable night out with friends.  We are going to try the same thing with some college football t-shirts and wear them for the big interstate rival game on September 8th.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 Tb. lemon juice, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt
12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan (10-15 cup pan.) Sift together the 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 Tb. lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated.
3. Toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Gently mix them into the batter.
4. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled whisk together the remaining 2 Tb. of lemon juice and the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12

Lyndee’s Review:

Let's be honest I may not have followed my first ever attempt at bundt cake recipe as closely as I should've. I went to happy hour from 5-7:30 and for some reason around 10 pm it seemed like a great time to bake. I hadn't printed the recipe so I had to do it from the internet. The iPad possibly got bedazzled in sugar in the process. Fail.  The batter tasted awesome though. Just ask Mitchell. He licked the beaters and the bowl clean as a whistle.  


This was pretty cheap to make. I bought a bundt cake pan on clearance for $3.  Hooray for the Dollar General store.  I had most of the ingrediants on hand so it was $3 for strawberries, 50 cents for a lemon, and 50 cents for a vanilla greek yogurt.  It was simple to make even thought I messed a few things up.  I did, however, zest my first lemon ever.  I used a vegetable peeler and just tried to do little pieces.  It kind of creeped me out to put the peel in the batter as I was afraid I would be able to taste chunks of nasty rhine later but it didn't happen. 
Pay attention to the amounts needed in the ingredient list versus the actual directions.  You set aside part of the lemon juice and the flour, which I neglected to do so mine probably has a more lemony taste as I squeeze a full lemon into the batter and then realized I needed two more tablespoons for the glaze.  My glaze didn’t melt very well like it did in the pictures from the original pin.  It still tasted great just wasn’t an A+ for presentation.  The cake is moist, summery and delicious.  If you have a bundt pan and like some fruit in your dessert this is a total win.  I would suggest not starting it at 10 pm though.  You have to mix it, bake it for an hour, let it cool for 20 minutes then drizzle.  Poor Mitchell was so excited to have some but fell asleep long before it was ready to eat.  It received 5 big thumbs up from the family though so that's a definite win!!  We will make this again. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Top It With A Cushion

Review by Melody:
My search on Pinterest began when I wanted to restore my old piano.  I learned how to play on that piano when I was in second grade.  It is an old stand-up piano in much need of a good tuning.  I thought about painting it, but was afraid of possibly ruining a piano that I would never be able to part with for sentimental purposes.  Ultimately, I decided to delay the restoration project, change the decor on the top of the piano, and opt for a sprucing up of the piano bench by adding a cushion when I found a pin via  I went to Walmart, and found some fabric that would be sturdy and strong enough to stand up to two toddlers.  More importantly, a dark shaded fabric to conveniently absorb any spills from my two little pianists when they're banging out their compositions on the piano.  I bought some roll-out cushioning, cut it to size and then folded the fabric around the cushion I laid on top of the lid of the bench.  I grabbed my husband's staple gun from the garage and...presto change-o -- ta-da!!

It's definitely something that I can easily change the fabric if I'd like someday.  And, it adds some additional charm to a bench that holds so much sentimental character to me already.  You'll notice that the board nailed to the bottom of the bench is an addition by my late grandpa.  When the bench began to get week and wobbly, he stabalized the bench with that.  It has come in handy over the years as more pressure has been applied to the bench as my butt increases in size! 
  The above is the bottom of the lid.  I folded over the fabric to make a clean edge.  Then, I pulled it tight, and stapled it to the bench.

After this, I did a similar project with a chest my aunt handed down to me when I graduated high school.  My dad had originally made it for her in a shop class when he was in high school.  When I graduated, she gave it to me.  I love it, but over the years, it had began to look a tad bit outdated.  By changing out the decorative knobs, and upholstering the bench with a cushion and some bright fabric, the chest really made for a cozy and inviting little nook in our upstairs hallway.  I went with white since it's bright, and the kids wouldn't be sitting or playing around it often.  I bought the fabric at Wal-Mart, and used the extra fabric to make a couple matching pillows, in addition to sewing some additional pillows to contrast the white and pull-in the sage valance.  I love it, and my husband has stopped complaining about it taking up room in our hallway. 
I used the same technique I used with the piano bench --folding over the fabric over some roll-out cushion.  Then, I folded over the ends of the fabric before stapling it down to make a clean hem.  Easy-peasy!!