Monday, October 20, 2014

mmmmm: crispy, oven cooked bacon







i love bacon. who doesn't, really? as much as i love to partake in the eating of said bacon.....the cooking of it is another matter. on the stove top or in the microwave are both messy. a friend told me about how their family now only cooks bacon in the oven....so i decided to give it a try. i'm hooked. i will never do it any other way. truly. it was simple and left the bacon crispy and caramelized. bacon heaven.

crispy oven cooked bacon



ingredients
1 to 2 pounds bacon
equipment
parchment paper  (or foil)
1 baking sheet (with sides)
tongs
paper towels
plate

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. arrange the bacon on a parchment lined baking sheet (this makes clean-up a breeze). lay the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. (i like to twist the bacon so that it takes less space).
  3. place the baking sheet of bacon in the oven and bake until the bacon is wonderfully golden-brown and crispy, which will take approximately 20 minutes. (exact baking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you like it. begin checking around 12-15 minutes to monitor how quickly the bacon is cooking. 
  4. remove the bacon from the oven and use tongs to transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and finish crisping. serve immediately.


let us know what you think. personally, i'm never going back to my stove top and micro ways....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

my heart in cloth


four boys, one girl. that's the line up that makes up my family. my precious daughter is my second born and, while i love my sweet boys to distraction, i always thought i would have one more daughter in the mix. each new pregnancy, i would look at the tubs full of baby clothes in the rafters of my garage, pink tubs on one side, blue ones on the other and i would wonder, and hope. each year that went by brought another beautiful boy. i’m grateful, truly grateful for my army of little men but, until recently, i couldn’t bear the thought of parting with those pink tubs. 



those tubs were full of promise, of hopes, of memories. they were full of all my wishes for daughters that never came. they are full of the questions, “was that one early miscarriage a baby girl? would that baby have been the one? if i had one more, would that one be a girl?” those tubs are full of precious moments of my daughter’s life that went by much too fast. they are unending emotions stored in cheap plastic and they were impossible for me to give away.



each consignment sale that came along, i would open the tubs, pull out some clothes, and then hastily put the tubs away. it was impossible for me to close the door on all those wishes and memories. and so, i waited for another year, another year, another baby, another year. 



we have decided we are done having kids. we are closing the door on diaper duty, bottles and cribs. we are embracing the next chapter of our lives and those pink tubs were still staring at me. my husband would gently suggest that it was maybe time to find a place for all those beautiful clothes, to make some room in the garage, to close that door. still, it was too difficult.

a few months ago a friend of mine had his first daughter…and i did the impossible. i packed up bags of baby girl clothes and drove them to a church service where i could find him and his wife. piece by piece i showed them what they were getting. i wanted to say, “this is the pair of pajamas she was wearing when she took her first step. this is the dress she wore for her first easter. these are the pants she learned how to crawl in. she said ‘mama’ for they first time wearing this shirt. i never even had a chance to take her picture in this. i thought i would be able to use these another time.” i wanted to somehow communicate that these weren’t just clothes, these were my memories and hopes held in plastic bags. i wanted them to know the weight of those simple items of clothing but i kept my mouth closed. i handed a piece of my heart over in grocery bags and i walked away…and i cried all the way home. 


by the time i got home i had pulled myself together. i hugged my daughter and my sweet boys and i smiled. i was so proud of myself that i had taken that step forward, that step toward moving on. it was a piece of letting go.



a couple of weeks ago, as i was scrolling through facebook, a picture caught my eye. there among the fall pictures sat an image of a sweet baby girl in an apple dress and onesie that i knew well. she was happy and smiling and absolutely precious and, in that moment, those clothes became more. they were not just my memories in cloth form, they were the memories for someone else. that is the dress that baby wore to her first trip to pick apples. those are pictures that family will look back on and smile. that dress will fill another photo book, another picture frame, another family’s memories. there is healing in that moment, in saying goodbye to tangible things that hold intangible memories.



in reality, i know that the clothes don’t matter, that they don’t hold the key to the memories or the loss of time. still, i never realized how difficult it would be to let those go…or the comfort that would come in seeing them alive in the heart of someone else. and so, i’ll do it again. i’ll give away clothes, i’ll refrain from telling stories, and i’ll wait to see pictures of my heart in cloth become memories for someone else.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

mmmmm: two ingredient pumpkin spice muffins


this is the easiest recipe ever! it literally has two ingredients and can be made in a snap. my kids devour these (seriously, they have actually eaten so many that one of them got sick). they take two seconds and they are the perfect fall treat. enjoy!

two ingredient pumpkin-spice muffins

1 box spice cake mix

1 small can of pumpkin



mix the two ingredients well. this will take some time as the spice cake mix sometimes takes a while to break down into the pumpkin. 


spray or line a muffin pan. spoon mixture into muffin pans and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 


enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

fun finds: the best halloween costumes of the year


the time has come to shop for halloween costumes (my favorite). i love shopping on etsy for the uniqueness and creativity......plus, you get to support a small business owner.....a win-win in my book.  here are my picks for best halloween costumes of the year:

















































what are your kiddos going to be for halloween this year?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

how to teach your kids pet responsibility

this is a sponsored post for nutrish cat food. while the lovely people at nutrish have supplied my cats with some fantastic cat food for this post, the opinions and ideas are all my own. for more information on nutrish and to receive a coupon to switch to nutrish, please click here. one of the reasons we love nutrish is because of rachael ray's commitment to give back and help animals in need. you can read more on her website www.nutrishforcats.com

we have two cats. yes. five kids and two cats. if my kids didn't have allergies, we'd probably have dogs too. it's enough to make me tired just saying it. still, a couple of years ago when we made the decision to get pets, we did so for many reasons. one of those reasons was to teach our children the importance of caring for another creature and the value of that responsibility. our goal is to teach our kids skills they will need to be great adults and parents and having pets is one way we are building those skills.

this has not been without struggles and we have had to find workable ways for the kids to care for our cats. let's face it, with five kids to care for there is little time for me to take care of two more living creatures. so, among the chores for the kids each week are "cat duties." my kids have had to grow into some of the chores and we have had to adapt to make the process work for little hands. here are some of the ways we have made pet care accessible to our little people.

pet feeding: my kids are responsible for feeding the cats. we have a huge cat food bowl. this serves multiple purposes. first, the two cats can eat at once. second, we don't have to refill the bowl everyday. and, third, it is easier for small children to fill the bowl without getting cat food all over the floor. this bowl is big enough that my four year old has been feeding the cat for more than a year. a couple of scoops in the big bowl and we are good to go. warning: this bowl is also very appealing to extra small hands. i have walked in to find that my toddler has given the cats a bite of cat food and then has taken a bite himself. he's the fifth born so we just shrug and move on. if you are concerned about such things, i would make sure the bowl is not accessible to extra small humans.



we also keep the huge bag of our rachael ray nutrish cat food outside and keep a plastic tub accessible to kids indoors. it is stored with a plastic measuring cup that makes filling the food bowls easy. everything that simplifies to make it a kid-friendly task saves me work on my end. 


litter pan cleaning: our kids have to clean out the litter box. there are a couple of things we do to make this an easy process. we've learned that if anything requires too much work the likelihood of it getting done without incident is close to none. we have placed a bag of target bags for easy litter box cleaning and a scooper right where all the kids can reach. there is also a pail for them to dump the filled bag into right outside the door. few steps + easy execution = success...most days.



we also use litter pan liners. you can purchase them at the grocery store or make your own with a garbage bag. they fit around the bottom of the litter pan and can be picked up and thrown away with ease. this keeps the litter box from absorbing unpleasant smells and makes changing out the litter a breeze, even for the kids. we completely change out the litter box at least once a week to keep things smelling fresh. this combined with litter pan deodorizer helps to ensure that our house smells fresh, even with two cats. 





pet hair cleanup: i hate having pet hair in my house. i feel like it makes things constantly look a little dingy. so, the vacuum is my best friend. my two year old can vacuum like a champ and my four year old has mastered it all around the house. we have a great vacuum that has an stair attachment. we've used this attachment on all sorts of surfaces and it picks up pet hair beautifully. we use it so often that it is permanently left on our vacuum for the kids to pick up cat hair anywhere it may lie. it's a beautiful thing. 



pet playtime: all animals need attention and part of caring for them is playing with them. the kids have to spend time each week playing with their pets. the cats love toys...lasers, feathers, etc. and the kids are pretty good about spending a few minutes each day keeping the cats occupied. there are also some great diy ideas to make homemade cat toys and the kids can make their own toys to keep the cats busy.


what about you? what do your kids do to help care for the pets in your household?

Monday, September 29, 2014

fall favorites


this is a sponsored post. while some of the products were given to me, the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

without a doubt, fall is my favorite season. after each brutal southern summer, where i feel i do little more than survive, fall is a magical reprieve. i bask in the cool weather, the fall colors, and the magnificent crispness that is the fall season. there are so many things that i love about the fall. here are a few of my all time favorites.

fall scents: i love the smells of fall. i love all things pumpkin, apple, cinnamon and warmth. with five kids i don't have time to travel to a bunch of stores to purchase scented candles, waxes or room sprays. so, target or walmart have to work as my one-stop-shop. i pretty much live in the scented aisle in the fall and i love the convenience of it all. i can even manage to occupy my littlest boys by having them "scratch and sniff" through the aisle. as a result, i have a ton of different sprays, candles and waxes in my home and my house constantly smells like something is baking or an outdoor stomp through some crunchy leaves. aside from the fact that the smells often make me hungry for all fall treats, it is amazing. i love the homey feeling scents create and, when people come in my house, they comment on how great everything smells (and not on the cherrios on the floor). it's a win-win for me.




fall decorations: i love all the colors of fall. i love pumpkins and fall leaves. fall is the time of year to bring out all the decorations that start the holiday season. my favorite of this season's decorations are the forever pumpkins we have created. while we have done ours with names, you can also carve flowers or faces into yours and use them year after year. if you want to add more scented goodness, instead of putting a light inside, put in a small scented votive. learn how to create your own forever pumpkins.



fall baking: i love baking in the fall. after the heat of the summer, my baking genes kick into high gear and i make everything i can. i especially love the spices of fall and if a recipe includes cinnamon or nutmeg, i'll make it repeatedly. with all the scented candles burning, i'm not going to lie, i'm hungry for delicious fall treats all the time. here you can find some of my favorites.






what about you? what are your fall favorites?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

diy: easy lego table


my boys are both lego obsessed. i had searched my favorite home stores, but the cost of lego tables was out of my budget, so i decided to make my own. it is a super simple project and not only will the time spent making the tables be minimal, but so is the cost! i call that a win-win. 


once you have the materials gathered, the process is simple:

step 1:
assemble the ikea table(s)

step 2:
remove the wrapping from the lego squares and use lego bricks to attach the four (4) plates together. this will make the gluing process *much* easier.
step 3:
flip the large square base pieces over and apply glue.

step 4: 
flip over the glued pieces and press firmly into place. once dry, the table is ready for hours and hours of enjoyment. 


i made two! one for each little man. oh, happy day!