Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Sling, Mom Would Be Proud



So, I saw this idea on Pinterest and had to try it out.  I must say, I am not a sewer, but I think my mom would be proud of me!  I am so glad I was able to figure it out on my own since this was the first time I've attempted to use the sewing machine since my mom passed away.  That could have produced a huge meltdown!  It's the little things, you know?  I'm so glad she taught me the basics.

So I used this site:  http://www.domesticimperfection.com/2011/09/triple-book-slings/.  Again, let me say, I am NOT a sewer!  I think I've hemmed some pants and shortened curtains before.  That's it.  So, if I can do this, so can you!  Albeit I might have had to make some adjustments.  I should have measured them and then chosen the size of slings I wanted.  But no, I had to do things the hard way.  I did the large size first, had it all done, and went to put Caden's books in and you couldn't see any of them!  So, back to the sewing machine.  I ripped out the seam, made a cut, and sewed it back up.


I bought some curtain rods, shown in the picture below, which are clearly not going to cut it.  I couldn't find any wooden dowels longer than 3 feet though.  My slings are 4 feet long.  Again, had I thought this through more, I would have cut my fabric shorter to use the cheaper wooden dowels.   I would shorten them now, but I already put holes in the wall.  Not a fan of making more holes than necessary!  I will be going back to the store to get a sturdier rod to hang the book sling with.


I was very happy with my $9 double curtain rod hangers.  They are wooden and brown and match Caden's room perfectly.  They are quite sturdy, too.  Overall, for two book slings (the other one is awaiting the shortening process) I spent about $35.  I love that it saves space and isn't so bulky like a bookshelf.

I hope you other non-sewers out there find this helpful!  Maybe you won't make the same mistakes I did!

 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Freezer Cooking FAQ



I wanted to answer a bunch of questions in one place, and show you something I did with the leftovers from the Salsa Chicken in Freezer Cooking 101.  Yummy nachos!!!  It was delicious!  We just took the Salsa Chicken leftovers and put it on chips, topped with cheese and put in the oven for a couple minutes on broil.


Okay, on to the questions:

  • Do you have to defrost the bags?  I don't defrost mine.  I run them under hot water for about 30 seconds to losen the bag and in the crockpot it goes.  However, some people say that you run a higher risk for food poisoning because the food might stay at a dangerous temparature too long.  I haven't had this issue, but you decide what's best for your family!
  • How many does a bag serve?  One bag serves my family of 2 adults and a two-year-old easily.  We frequently have some leftovers.  If you have a larger family, put all the contents into one bag and it will serve 4 or 5 people.
  • Do I need to pre-cook any meats?  Most the time, the answer is no.  However, anytime you are using any ground meat you will want to brown that first.
  • What size crockpot do you use?  I use just your everyday crockpot.  Mine does have the auto-warm feauture, where the crockpot turns itself down to warm after the cooking time is up.  That does come in handy.
  • Can I get a printer-friendly version?  Sorry, no, not at this time.  However, my goal is to have an e-cookbook for sale by Thanksgiving!  It would make an excellent gift I think.
Some helpful tips:
  • Chop your veggies ahead of time.  It really breaks up the work so you can get this done in two naptimes.
  • Get everything out on the counter so you aren't hunting for things when you are ready to fill bags.
  • Get a system.  I've filled bags one recipe at a time, just throwing in what I need in order.  I've also done it by ingredients.  I posted all the recipes on the cabinets above me with the bags underneath and I just went down the line with my ingredient.  This works well when several recipes call for the same things, which many of the recipes do.
  • Always pre-cook ground meats.
  • Feel free to deviate from the recipe.  Throw in some spices here and there.  I never cook something the same way!
  • Make sure you meals freeze so that they will fit into the crockpot in their frozen form.  Hmm...wonder how I discovered that one?!?!  ;)
  • I also recommend getting Mama and Baby Love's e-cookbook. It has 20 great recipes and includes printable labels for your bags! Love her stuff!! Click here to get it.
I hope this has been helpful to you!  Tell me, what's your favorite non-crockpot meal?  I'd love to try to make a crockpot freezer meal version.  I love a challenge just as much as I love saving time!


 



Saturday, June 23, 2012

80 Calorie Ice Cream Sandwich

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My sister shared this recipe with me not too long ago and I absolutely LOVE these!  And the best part is, at 80 calories, I don't have to feel guilty! 

It is incredibly simple:
  • Take one chocolate graham cracker sheet and break it in half.
  • Put a dallop of light cool whip on top of one of the halves.
  • Place the other half on top.
  • Cover with plastic wrap tightly.
  • Freeze at least 2 hours.


 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Above My Cabinets

I really enjoy shopping at resale places.  My goal this summer is to make my house somewhere I want to be.  There's so many things that are boring or unattractive about my house and I'm slowly working on those things.  The first one was the space I had above my cabinets.  I didn't want to spend a bunch of money for things up there.  I shopped some resale places and got everything that is now above my cabinets for about $30!  I think it makes a huge difference in my kitchen too!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MawMaw's Strawberry Pie

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My husband's favorite dessert is MawMaw's Strawberry Pie and MeMaw's Eclair Cake (but that's for another day!).  When we were dating I was told all about these two desserts and promptly phoned MawMaw for her famous recipe.  I'm sure mine isn't quite like hers, but it sure is a favorite around my house.


MawMaw's Strawberry Pie Recipe
3 Quarts of Strawberries
1 Cup of Sugar
3-4 tbsp. of cornstarch
1 tbsp. lemon juice


So first, you'll want to remove the tops of all the strawberries and slice half of them.  Here are two of my favorite toys.  The slicer was passed down to my by my sweet mom, and the strawberry coring toy was given to me by one of my students at the end of the year.




 Next you'll want to mash half of the strawberries.  I normally do that in a blender.  It's quick and easy.  Then you need to cook the strawberry mash with a cup of sugar and 3-4 tbsp. of cornstarch.  Stir CONSTANTLY!  Continue cooking till the mixture is gooey, like a batter.  Add more cornstarch if it's not getting gooey.  Let the mixture cool and then add the remaining sliced strawberries.




Prepare a pie crust.  You can make your own or do store-bought.  To make the edges of my pie cruse pretty I use the end of a spoon to make indentions.




If you want to, you can save 18 strawberries and place them in an egg carton to fill with a cream chesse mixture.  You can either fill these with store bought fruit dip or make your own with 12 oz. of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of powedered sugar, and a bit of almond extract.  I used a pastry bag to fill my berries.  I did a homemade mixture, and it was EXTREMELY thick and hard to squeeze through my bag.  I probably could have added a bit more extract to make it easier to fill.



 In the picture at the beginning you'll see that I put blue berries at the top of the strawberries.  I just thought it would be a cute 4th of July decoration.

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Presents!

So, I looked around on Pinterest for some Father's Day ideas.  I found the Footprints poem that I really liked. 

Footprints Poem
"Walk a little slower daddy," said a child so small.
"I'm following in your footsteps and I don't want to fall.

Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they're hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.

Someday when I'm all grown up,
You're what I want to be;
Then I will have a little child
Who'll want to follow me.

And I would want to lead just right,
And know that I was true;
So, walk a little slower, Daddy,
For I must follow you." -Author Unknown


I saw lots of actual footprint pictures with that, but I didn't really want to just do a poem with a footprint on it.  Then I remember www.picmonkey.com that I've been using!  I LOVE this site.  It allows you to do all sorts of editing on your pictures and write on them.  And, it's FREE!  So, I took one of my favorite pictures of Caden, edited it to be black and white, and typed an excerpt of the poem on top.  Here's the original picture and the edited picture.






And here is the actual gift framed.  I went to the store and got a simple 8x10 frame with a 5x7 mat.




And then, I decided I wanted Caden to have a little action in the present.  So, we got out the fingerpaint and did handprints on the back of a roll of wrapping paper I already had.  Here's the wrapped gift!


More VBS!

We went back up to the church yesterday to add some finishing touches on our VBS room.  So, here it is in it's finished form!  I hope we win the room decoration contest!





Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crockpot Freezer Cooking 101

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You can also purchase my e-book here for just $8.00.  Buy Now

I thought I would give a run-down of exactly what I do when I prepare my Crockpot Freezer Meals.  I really enjoy doing this because it saves me time and money, two things of which I always seem to be in need!  There's nothing like having 10 meals done in 3 hours!

A couple things to note here:
  • I make double of each recipe so that I have 10 total meals that serve a family of 4 normally.  So 1 bag equals 1 meal for 2 adults and 2 children normally.
  • I always taste the meal once it is cooked fully in the crockpot and add more seasonings as needed.  Seasoning is a personal preference.
  • I defrost the bag slightly and then put the frozen chunk into the crockpot and set it for 8 hours on low while I am working.  My crockpot automatically goes to warm after that.  I've never had any issues with food drying out.
  • I also recommend getting Mama and Baby Love's e-cookbook. It has 20 great recipes and includes printable labels for your bags! Love her stuff!! Click here to get it.

1.  I choose my recipes.  Here is what I'm using this week:

Week of May 11th, 2012 Freezer Plan



Hawaiian ChickenSandwiches

6-8 Chicken Breasts (1 for each family member, doubled)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 small cans of pineapple rings
2 red bell peppers sliced into thin strips
1large onion sliced into strips
Provolone cheese
Whole wheat buns or lettuce wraps

Directions:  Divide all contents evenly into two bags except cheese and buns/lettuce.  Cook onlow for 8 hours.  Serve chicken toppedwith pepper and onions under melted provolone cheese on a bun or lettuce warp.

Savory Pepper Steak

3 pounds of roundsteak but into ½ inch thick strips.
½ cup flour
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
1 large onion chopped
a few garlic cloves—Ilike to put 4-5 crushed into each bag
1 green pepperssliced
1 red peper sliced
2  16oz cans of tomatoes—I prefer Italian style
2 tbsp beef bouillon
4 tsp ofWorcestershire sauce
2 tbsp of steakseasoning
2 tbsp of steak sauce

Directions:  Toss steak strips in mixture of flour, saltand pepper.  Mix together beef boullion,Worcestershire sauce, and steak sauce and divide evenly into two bags.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Serve with rice and a side salad.

Scalloped Potatoes andHam

12 new potatoes and cut into ¼ inch round slices or a large bag of frozen potatoes
2 cans of cream ofyour choice—I used potato
2 cans of water
2 ham steaks, cubed--we used turkey ham
8 oz cheddar cheese
4 cups of broccoli
salt and pepper

Directions:  Divide everything evenly into two containers.  Cook on low for 8 hours.
*EDIT* People have mentioed the potatoes turing black if frozen.  Mine didn't do that, but just to be safe, either use frozen potatoes or add potatoes the day of cooking.

Salsa Chicken

6-8 chicken breasts
2   15 oz. cans of black beans
1 family size frozenbag of corn
2 cans of dicedtomatoes and green chilies
1 jar of salsa
1 packet of tacoseasoning
2 cups of cheddarcheese

Directions:  Divide everything except cheese evenly intotwo bags.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve over rice or on corn tortillas withrice as a side.

Chicken Curry

6-8chicken breasts
2cans of cream of chicken soup
1cup of dry cooking sherry
½cup of butter
8green onions chopped
4tsp of curry powder
saltand pepper

Directions: Divide everything except butter into two bags evenly.  Add butter to crockpot when ready to cook.  Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice with a side salad.


2. I prep my grocery list split into categories and go shopping:



Grocery List
 
Produce:
3 red bell peppers
1 green bell pepper
2 large onions
Lettuce wraps*
Garlic
12 new potatoes
Broccoli
Bunch of green onions
Meats:
18-24 chicken breasts
3 lbs round steak
2 ham steaks
Frozen:
1 family sized bag of corn
Canned:
2 small cans of pineapple rings
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 jar of salsa
2 cans of cream of your choice
2 cans of cream of chicken
2   15oz cans of blackbeans
Dairy:
Provolone Cheese
4 cups cheddar cheese
Bakery:
Whole wheat buns*
Staples/Spices:
Salt
Pepper
Flour
Beef bouillon
Worcestershire sauce
Steak Sauce
Steak Seasoning
Taco Seasoning
Cooking Sherry
Butter
Curry powder
Rice
Salad Supplies

*Buy only lettuce wraps or buns, based on your sandwich preferences.








3. I label my freezer bags with date, name, and directions.
4. I cut my veggies and place into bags.  Any meats that need to be browned I prep at this time as well.  Sometimes I do this step on a separate day, depending on how much time I have.  Make sure to wash your veggies!




5. I add seasoning and canned ingredients.
6. I trim and tenderize my meats and add to bags.  A tip here is to always cut meats against the grain!  Makes for a much more tender cut.  Also, make sure you don't leave all your meats out for an extended period of time.  I prep one meat at a time, then stick it in the freezer as soon as I'm done with that one.  Make sure to wash your cutting board and knives between meats to avoid cross-contamination!
7.  Store in freezer and clean up!





Check out Shaklee's Get Clean!

Shaklee






Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pipecleaners are a Mom's Best Friend!

I bought some pipe cleaners this past weekend and Caden and I played with them using a strainer to work on fine motor skills.  Caden and I came home from the store and I had forgotten I had left the bag that I stored this activity in down on the floor in his playroom.  I guess he really liked it because he grabbed the bag of pipe cleaners and strainer out of playtime bag and plopped himself down in the kitchen.  Lucky for me, I needed to get some things done in the kitchen (the mountain of dishes threatening to tumble)!  I was able to do my dishes and get my veggies sliced for freezer meal prep!



 

It's VBS Season!

Well, it's that time of year.  Time for Vacation Bible School-at least here in Texas!  This year's theme at our church is Amazing Wonders Aviation and our rooms are supposed to be themed like Victoria Falls in Africa.  I am teaching the 4th grade class with some of my girlfriends. So here is what we did with our room today.  We plan on adding a little bit extra on Thursday--an airplane, a raft on the floor, and some glitter to make our waterfall sparkle!!  Can't wait for VBS to start next week!  Woohoo!







Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Working Out with Jillian

Okay, no need to get too excited.  Jillian wasn't actually there.  Would that be a dream though!  However, I am doing the workout from her book, Making the Cut.  I have done one week of the workout and I've already lost an inch around my hips!  I am so excited--she claims on the cover of the book that you'll be able to wear a bikini anywhere, anytime.  I'm not so sure about the anywhere part--I think I'll just stick to the beach and the pool. 

I am doing this workout to trim off some flab left from Caden (two years ago, yikes!), so John and I can go to Punta Cana at the end of July.  We never had a honeymoon since he started a new job the Monday after we got married.  At least if the honeymoon wasn't right after our wedding, at least I can look like it was.  I have three more weeks of the workout plan.  I'm hoping my Cinch stuff comes tomorrow so I can add that into my plan!  I know it will help my process so much!  For more information on Cinch, follow me on my facebook page or go to my Shaklee website.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Crockpot Freezer Cooking, Take Two!


I was so happy with how my first round of freezer cooking went, I decided to give it another go.  Last time, I was amazed at how much money I was saving by doing this.  I've always been a meal planner, but when you double your meals you are using more of the product that you had to buy in the first place.  And then there's the bonus of food not going bad before you use it.  That seemed to happen to me at least once a week!  So frustrating!  This time around I made:

Divine Chicken
Spaghetti (with some hidden veggies in it)
Garlic Ranch Chicken
Beef Fajitas
Brown Sugar Chicken.

You can get the Garlic Ranch Chicken and Fajita recipes here.

Again, please check out Ring Around the Rosies' blog to get the other recipes. http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/02/freezer-cooking.html.


I did have one little almost-oopsie this time around.  I was going along, thinking I knew what I was doing and not reading very carefully.  I was also trying to hurry to finish during Caden's nap time!  While prepping the spaghetti, I didn't read to see that I needed to brown the ground beef before bagging it.  After I remembered, I just thought, oh of course!  How could I have been so silly?  I was able to pull the meat out and brown in with some veggies that got stuck on a little bit.  I figured that I was freezing it anyway, so it really shouldn't cause a problem.  We ate the spaghetti and loved it.  I especially loved that Caden got some veggies in him without fussing!


I forgot to put the labels on the bags before taking this picture, but again, I ended up with 10 meals to put in the freezer. I mixed these in with what I had from the week before so we wouldn't get bored with our dinners!


Out of this batch, we especially like the Fajitas and Garlic Ranch Chicken.  We are huge garlic fans at my house!  Not to mention lovers of Mexican food fans!  I'll have to share my chicken enchiladas with you guys!  But that's for a different post!
In the next couple weeks I plan to venture out and try some recipes of my own! 

 

Adventures in Freezer Cooking

Being a full-time working mom is hard!  Not to mention trying to make time for the gym after work and still manage to put a healthy meal on the table for my family.  I saw this great idea on my friend's blog about Crock Pot freezer cooking.

I decided to give it a try.  My only regret is not discovering this earlier!  It has been so nice to come home and dinner is ready.  I can come home, enjoy time with Caden instead of listening to him whine to be held while I cook.  Not to mention, the cleanup is a breeze!  Rinse the baggie to reuse and throw away the crockpot liner.  Then all that's left is our plates!

 I wish I would have taken some more pictures, but here are my finished products.  For my first round of freezer cooking I tried:

Cilantro Lime Chicken
Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
Beeftips
Sausage and Peppers
Teriyaki Chicken
...and some chicken nuggets for Caden!

It took me about 3 hours all together to prep everything and since you divide each recipe into two bags I ended up with 10 meals!!!   I did the grocery shopping the day before so it wasn't quite as overwhelming.  Our favories were the Cilantro Lime Chicken and the Sweet and Tangy Meatballs.  In fact, John and his best friend liked the Cilantro Lime Chicken so much he entered a version of it into a cook off and won 3rd place out of 37 teams!!!  That being said, nothing was bad!  We enjoyed everything.  I always tend to throw some extra spices in because we like things pretty bold around our house.

To get the recipes and all the details see her post on freezer cooking: http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/02/freezer-cooking.html. She's amazing!

Flower Bed Project


This weekend John and I worked in the flower bed.  This is something I've been wanting to do for a very long time.  I wanted it cleaned up and made more simplistic.  The pictures don't to it justice, the before picture is actually after I ripped up all the weeds and ugliness!  Starting this project I was concerned that it was going to cost way too much money.  In the end, I think we spent about $150 for soil, 2 new rose bushes, mulch, stone, and concrete mix.  It took about 6 hours total.  My husband did an AMAZING job!!!  I know it's not an amazing transformation, but it sure made me feel better.

Friday, June 1, 2012

About Me



Hi everyone!  My name is Aimee.  I'm an educational diagnostician, former 6th grade math teacher, a wife to my husband, John, a mom to my 3 year old little boy and our brand new little girl Addyson, who has special needs, but more than anything I am driven by my faith.  I am new to the world of blogging and I have to admit, I am probably not the best writer.  However, I think that what I have to share with people might overcome that.  I'm all about living a healthy, faith-filled life and balancing being a full-time teacher and mom.  I hope to post about my career with Shaklee, my crock-pot freezer cooking adventures, and my adventures with my nearly two-year old little boy.  I am very excited to begin this new adventure!


About the title, Six Cents.  My mother's maiden name was Penny Nickel.  Her nickname in school was Six Cents for obvious reasons.  My mom was so incredibly special and I know I was lucky to have her as long as I did.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't long enough.  In September of 2009 she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  I couldn't believe it.  She never smoked, she ate well, exercised.  She did all the right things.  Since her diagnosis I have done a lot of research and learned that the food we eat, the water we drink and the products we use all tend to have some sort of cancer-causing agent in them.  We decided to change our plans and start a family sooner than we had originally planned.  Caden came along ten months after my mom's diagnosis.  Talk about God's timing!!!






































 My mom lost her battle at the young age of 57, just two and half short years after her diagnosis.  We are so thankful for the time she had with our precious baby boy.  We feel that she hung on as long as she did because of him and because I needed her to help me figure out the mom thing.  After she passed I decided that I wanted to go as green as I could.  More organic food, filtered water, and better household products. I can't stand the thought of leaving my family at the young age of 57.  I want to do everything in my power to avoid that.  I know I will miss my mom every day.  I know she would be proud of what I am doing and how I am taking care of my family.
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