Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Awesome new book...for Christmas!!

I follow a lot of couponing blogs...I try to stick to a pretty strict budget each paycheck...and I try to find great new ways to save money and get creative.....

So this is fantastic!! One of my favorite blogs is Money Saving Mom - Crystal has some great ideas, and I love reading about her sweet family.

Now she has a new book out just in time for Christmas! I just got my copy here at Amazon - you should, too!!

Merry Christmas (early ;-))!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple Party!!

It's officially FALL!! And that means it was time for an Apple Party to celebrate! Throughout September, the boys and I have been decorating the house for fall (see our crafts here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). We also spent the morning of the party getting some fantastic apple food ready! This included Grandma Melba's Apple Nothin', hot apple cider, a caramel apple slice dipping bar (with homemade salted caramel!), caramel marshmallow popcorn, and apple butter spice cake!!

The table was set with my cute new fall tablecloth and new fall plates and bowls! As well as the returning scarecrows in jars of beans (they were new last year :-)).

Caramel apple slice dipping bar - caramel candy corn, chocolate chips, M&M's, marshmallows, and sprinkles (which weren't on the table yet when I took this picture...silly)

The apple butter cake was delicious and moist, and sooo very fall-ish!

Nu-nuh brought her apple punch, stamps and fall construction paper to make fun cards - Ethan had to push very hard to make it work!!

Emy enjoyed the apple cider!

This was my sweet card from Ethan...he designed it himself!

And I was told I could have one apple - Andrew got the other one!

All in all, it was a fun time! Lots of delicious food, the smell of fall all throughout my house, a little rain and hailstorm outside, and "Holiday Inn" as our movie of choice for the afternoon.

Can't wait for next month's Halloween party together!

Fall Crafts with the kiddos...part 3

To continue our fun fall decorating for our Apple Party, we're onto Part 3 of the apple crafts I made with the boys (well, mostly with Ethan...Andrew usually just plays :-)). (Part 1 and Part 2 can be found there and there ;-))

These last two apple projects were simple, and turned out so cute!

I love how the cereal box apples (originally found here) turned out!! And the balloon apple tree was just a last minute idea to fill up some wall space above our tv that looked lonely...

Ethan did help me color the cereal box apples, but I did the wrapping and stems/leaves myself (sharp scissors and such)...

Cereal Box Apples:
empty cereal boxes (or other cardboard boxes - the smaller one we did was a cake mix box!)
construction paper (I used yellow for ours, but green, red or even plain brown or white (to then be colored) would be fine!)
markers, crayons, colored pencils, or paint (for making your apples your own!)
popsicle sticks
green pipe cleaners

1. Cover your boxes with the construction paper - wrap carefully like you would a present. Tape down the edges well (mine needed a little packing tape reinforcement - they were trying to pop open!)
2. Color (paint, etc.) your apples the way you want them - Ethan wanted to make his with letters and such, I wanted mine a little more uniform ;-)
3. Poke a hole in the top of the boxes (about the size of one side of the scissors). Form the pipe cleaner into two loops (leaves) and insert the pipe cleaner and popsicle stick into the hole in the box together. (I didn't need to secure them with anything else, the small hole with the tension of the popsicle stick and the pipe cleaner was enough to keep them stable.)

These are a totally different shape than a normal apple, which makes them cute!

The tree doesn't really need much instruction - cut out tree shapes, pin to wall, add some balloons. Simple, right? But it turned out cute too!

Bonus! I nearly forgot about this cute little craft, which was totally a mommy-only one (it was hard for me to get it right, I can't imagine trying to wrangle a couple of kids doing it too!).

These are so cute and woodsy! Another Pinterest idea originally found here, I thought this would be a neat way to dress up some old candles (found at a thrift store for about $1 for 3 candles! haha!!).

Super simple in concept, but took a little finagling to get the cinnamon to stay put while I tied the ribbon.

Cinnamon Candles:
basic candles (unscented)
cinnamon sticks (I ended up finding mine at Costco after a fruitless search at grocery and craft stores...)

1. Place the cinnamon sticks around the candle (For the taller candle here, I cut the sticks in half, for the smaller one, I cut them into thirds - use scissors, they worked much better than a knife!) - use tape to keep them in place if needed (I couldn't figure out a way to keep them up without the tape, so I taped around the bottom, then removed it when the ribbon was tied.)
2. Tie the ribbon tightly around the middle of the candle/cinnamon sticks. Make a bow, or a simple knot (like mine).
3. Remove the tape (if you used it), and fill in any gaps with more cinnamon sticks. (My bow didn't seem to be tight enough, so I added a few more cinnamon sticks to complete the candles.)
4. Light and enjoy! The smell of the cinnamon should start to come out when the wax has melted down far enough to warm the sticks themselves. Mine in the picture here were still far to tall to be smelling good - but the cinnamon sticks alone smell amazing, so I can't wait to light them again! 

Fall Crafts with the kiddos...part 2

I mentioned earlier that we had an Apple Party yesterday to celebrate fall. In getting ready we did a bunch of apple and fall-themed crafts! You can see Part 1 here, and now we're onto Part 2! These next two crafts I did mostly on my own, with Ethan watching (and trying to snack on!) and playing nearby. Some days, craft time is just for mommy :-P

These are (of course) Pinterest inspired, and originally were found here (yarn apples) and here (tulle apples) (the tuille ones were originally pumpkins, and will be pumpkins for next month, but I modified for apple/fall time!!).

These were super easy to make, and made a cute little centerpiece for our Apple Party table.

Yarn Apples:
red yarn
base form (for mine, I used some leftover plastic mini-pumpkins from my front door project)
green pipe cleaner (not shown on mine - I ran out! So I only used them on the tulle apples)

1. Wrap the base form with the red yarn, being sure to tuck in the first end to ensure no unraveling!
2. Tie the yarn off tightly by sticking the tail end through one of the loops and securing with a small knot. (I double knotted mine - safer that way!)
3. Slip the pipe cleaner through one of the top loops of yarn, and form two small loops for leaves. Twist to keep in place.

Tulle Apples:
Red tulle
Small red candy (the original uses jelly beans, but I couldn't find any all red jelly beans, so I went with a boxed "red only" candy instead)
green pipe cleaners
brown pipe cleaners (not shown on mine, because I didn't have any on hand...I just used the top of the tuille for my "stem")

1. Cut the tulle into squares (mine were about 6in squares) - I did a double layer for each apple, but that's a personal preference.
2. Place a handful of candy into the center of the tulle square(s) and pull the tulle up around it, forming a ball (apple!).
3. Twist the brown pipe cleaner around the top of the tulle ball, securing the candy inside and forming the stem.
4. Trim any extra tulle from the top of the stem. Wrap the green pipe cleaner through the stem, and make two loops (leaves). Twist to secure.

I loved the way these turned out, even with my missing pipe cleaners! I look forward to making them over again next month with new colors!

Fall Crafts with the kiddos...part 1

Yesterday we had an Apple Party to celebrate the arrival of fall, and the ending of September (I'm going to redecorate my house with pumpkins in October, so we're enjoying the apples until then!).

To get the house ready for the party, Ethan and I made lots of cute (Pinterest inspired, of course!) apple crafts. Most were super simple, and didn't take much time. There are quite a few of them though, so the crafts are going to take up a couple of posts...

First, we decorated the glass door and the front door window. This was actually two crafts, but we did them on the same day.
Over the door is a streamer banner with apple paint prints that reads "Welcome Fall." On the window/door itself are "stained glass" tissue paper apples. So cute, right?

Apple Paint Print Banner:
apples, cut in half from top to bottom
paper (we used a roll of butcher paper, but you could really use anything)
paint (we used washable finger paints to make sure my kitchen floor was safe ;-), but any paint would work)
mini-clothespins (or staples/tape - this will be used to attach the apples to the banner, so it's personal preference or what you have on hand!)
tape (or stick pins - this will be used to attach the banner to your chosen location, I used tape because it's hard to stick pin through a plastic blind header!)

1. Dip the half apples into the paint, and use like a stamp onto the paper. The more times you use the same apple (without re-dipping the paint), the more interesting the apple prints get. The first print will be very paint-y, while the later prints will be more apple-y.
2. Let dry. Cut out the apple prints and decide on the color order you want them in on the final banner (Ours went red-green-red-green-etc.).
3. Write your message using the marker. Remember to leave a "space apple"  between words!
4. Pin your apples to the streamer - I actually measured the distance between each apple and made it all mathematically even (oh, so OCD!), but feel free to be creative!
5. Attach your streamer to the wall (or, as in my case, the header to the blinds on the backdoor), and enjoy the cuteness of fall!

"Stained Glass" Tissue Paper Apples (and leaves!):
clear contact paper (can be found in the kitchen supply aisle)
tissue paper
construction paper

1. Decide on your design - you can freestyle your shapes, or you can (like me) find something cute online and trace it ;-) - and draw it out on the construction paper. Be sure to make the shapes large enough to leave space in the middle for the tissue paper.
2. Cut out your shapes. Then, cut out the insides of your shapes - you really only need a little border to give some defined shape to the project. If you would prefer a thicker or thinner border, go for it! Ours were about an inch wide for the apples, and about half an inch for the leaves.
3. Cut your tissue paper into small squares. I cut ours into strips, then into squares - trying to keep them mostly even!
4. Cut your contact paper to be a square just larger than your shape. You'll need two even pieces for each shape.
5. Peel the backing off one piece of contact paper and lay it, sticky side up, on the table. Center a shape in the middle of the contact paper and press down evenly.
6. Fill it in! This is the fun part where you get to be creative. You can make patterns or be totally random with your placement (even for my OCD mind, the creative ones were the ones that turned out better, because real apples and leaves don't usually have stripe patterns!). Simply place the tissue squares into the center of the shape, pressing them lightly onto the contact paper.
7. When your shape is filled in as you like it, peel the backing off the second piece of contact paper. Carefully align the edge of the two pieces, and press the sticky side of the second piece slowly onto the finished shape. This can take a little patience, because you don't want air bubbles or things to stick in the wrong place! Press the finished square firmly together to make sure it will hold well.
8. Cut out your finished shape - leave a little border around the edge (ours was about a quarter inch) to make sure you don't accidentally cut your shape!
9. Attach to your windows and glass doors with tape, and enjoy the light coming through!

Ethan had a great time with the apple painting - he thought it was so funny to be using food to paint!

In honor of my Grandma...

My Grandma Melba was amazing. She was sweet and wonderful and fun and she put up with my Grandpa (hehe!). One of the things I remember most about her were her treats - checkerboard cake, snickerdoodles, and apple nothin'.


So, in honor of her, I made apple nothin' for our Apple Party yesterday (which also happened to be the 4 year anniversary of her passing). It was a sweet (literally) way to remember her while spending time with family.

But, in Pinterest fasion, I couldn't just leave it as the normal apple nothin' we all love so much. I had to see if I could improve upon it and make it fantastic to look at as well as eat...

So I did.
Apple Nothin' baked *INSIDE* the cored out apples...wow.

I found this website through Pinterest, and simply swapped out the pie crust for the crumble topping of apple nothin'. And it was fabulous.

And now, since I know you want to try it for yourself...here ya go -

6 Apples (It really depends on how many you want to eat...you could technically make just one I suppose! I made 5, and had topping left over, so I would suggest 6 for the amount of topping. I used GrannySmith because they seem to work best for baking.)
Cinnamon-sugar (I keep a little bowl of this on hand for recipes like this and morning toast...just mix to your taste preference!)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Find your 8x8 pan and have it ready to go for the apples (I always forget this step, and have to scramble for the pan with my hands covered in food, so I'm reminding you ;-))
2. Cut the top off your apples and discard. Carve out the inside of the apples with a knife or melon baller. (I didn't need the apple filling to be pretty, so the half circle scoops I got turned out just fine.)
3. Put the apple pieces into a bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
4. Refill your scooped out apples with the cinnamon sugar pieces.
5. Mix the butter, sugar and flour together in a bowl. (Grandma Melba always used her hands for this part...so I do, too. I think it makes a difference!)
6. Cover the tops of your filled apples with the crumble topping. Place in the 8x8 pan.
7. Add enough water to the pan to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

At this point, the apples were done, but the topping wasn't as crispy brown as I like it. So I turned on my broiler for about 5 minutes and let them brown up. Yum.

They were so cute!! And smelled just like baked apples *AND* apple nothin'. (Not surprising, really, since that's what they were...but they smelled fantastic.)

And then I cut into one...

How delicious does that look?? It was wonderful. It would have been better with vanilla ice cream and some caramel sauce (apple nothin' is always better with vanilla ice cream, and vanilla ice cream is always better with caramel....sooo....next time!), but it was very yummy.

Now I have to wonder what else I could cook inside an apple...peach cobbler? Cherry pie? Berry "tarts"??

Oh, fall, you are so delicious.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is coming! Front door decor...

Fall is almost upon us...and I'm excited! We*'ve been planning out fall crafts for weeks now, and I am SO ready to get them all going!

(*"we" meaning "me" - Lane and the boys just tag along sweetly with my crazy holiday plans!)

First up - front door decor!!

Yay Pinterest!
Cute, right?? I found this darling idea on Pinterest for Christmas (original here), and decided that I could do it at home too!!

So here it is, step-by-step instructions on how to make an adorable fall decoration for your front door that isn't a wreath!

  1. Choose your frame - it should be a nice size for your door, taking up a decent amount of space. I chose a thin frame, but a wider frame looks great too (see the original!). I found mine at a local warehouse store for a couple of dollars.
  2. Choose your ribbons - I used soft craft ribbon, but you could easily use curly gift ribbon or even yarn if you were so inclined. I chose orange, maroon, and brown. Again, warehouse store, for $1 apiece (and had TONS left over...more crafts to come!).
  3. Choose your bow - I used a few scraps that I had from other projects, but again, almost any wide ribbon would work. I used 3 ribbons (wired gold, solid orange, sheer red), tied together in a bow following Martha Stewart's favorite bow instructions.
  4. Choose your "ornaments" - for Christmas, this will be easy! For fall, I had to be a little creative. I found mine at Walmart (like these, but with pumpkins instead of acorns - mine was a smaller box found in the fall section at my store for less than $5)
  5. Put the ornaments together! Tie your ribbons to each individual ornament - vary the colors of ribbon and the lengths to achieve the look in the picture. Then, make small bows with matching ribbon and hot glue to the knot at the top of the ornament (helps the knot stay tied, and looks so cute!).
  6. Tie the ornaments to the frame. I considered hot gluing them to the frame, but decided that I might use the frame again, so opted instead to just tie them on. Double knot for sturdiness!
  7. Make your bow, then attach on top of the ribbons. I used some thin wire I had to twist through the center of the back of the bow, and twist around the frame itself. This way, I can pull the bow off easily and replace it for another holiday - or reuse the ribbons again! - without having glue ruin it.
  8. Hang the project on your front door. This could be done a number of ways, decide what works best for you and your door! For mine, I used an upside down hook on the inside of my door and tied the ribbon to both corners of the frame, then looped it up over the door. (Also found on Pinterest and originally here)

Ta-da!! Pretty fall decor, super simple, inexpensive (less than $10) and oh-so cute! The mini pumpkins just kill me!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

White Enchiladas - Yum!

I'm not a fan of Mexican food in general. I have been known to order a cheeseburger off the kids menu at Mexican restaurants - yes, it's that bad. What can I say? I like my food plain and boring, and the Mexicans have a fabulous spicy palate that I just can't love.

So when I started making a "chicken roll up" meal (off the cuff, making it up as I went along), it never occurred to me that I was making enchiladas...until my darling hubby said I was (and as he has Mexican heritage, I suppose I'll believe him ;-)). So, for anyone looking for a deliciously simple chicken dish that is almost-not-really-Mexican-food: here it is.

White Enchiladas

- 1 can chicken (10oz)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I don't measure this part, just 2 big handfuls)
- Basic crepes (recipe found HERE)
- Sliced mozzarella cheese
- Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray (or oil it up - I rubbed oil on mine). Make your crepe batter. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Mix chicken, soup, and shredded cheese in a bowl.
3. Begin to cook the crepes.

So delicious! And pretty right??

As the crepes are coming out of the pan, begin to fill and roll each one with the chicken mixture. Line them up in the prepared pan.
4. Top each wrap with the sliced cheese (I used about 1/3 a slice per wrap). Sprinkle entire pan with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake until mozzarella is melted and Parmesan begins to brown lightly (I turned my broiler on for a minute or so at the very end.)
6. Serve warm and enjoy with chips/salsa.

These were so yummy! I love the chicken filling (I use it most often with noodles and make a chicken-noodle-casserole which is a family favorite). Very versatile recipe - you could easily add chopped veggies to the mix and make it healthier ;-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Moving on and becoming adults...

hehe...we're both adults already, but it FEELS like we're actually becoming adults now!

We're moving into a house!! Still just a rental, but we'll be out of an apartment! We applied yesterday, and will hear back today...I'll post pictures and more info when we hear for sure!

Prayers are MUCH appreciated!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Goals, New Blog Post


2012 is here, and the Wallace family has some BIG plans for the year!

For Andrew: learning to crawl, talk, walk...and be bigger :-)
For Ethan: learning to read and starting to write
For Hillary: Build my Mary Kay business, excel in school, and be an even better wife and mommy!
For Lane: Stay healthy (haha), excel in school, keep enjoying work and be an even better husband and daddy!

For the family as a whole: to eat healthier, exercise more and reach our weight goals.

I can't wait to share our progress and our year with you as we grow (or shrink as the case may be!) through 2012!