Freezer Meals

We’re starting the year off with a goal to eat out less, and cook healthier. We both enjoy cooking, and try to cook at home as much as possible, but between work and night classes, it can be hard to cook dinner and prep lunches every day. I finally caved in, and started planning to make some freezer meals to start the new year and new semester off on the right foot! Equipped with a sharpie, freezer bags, and a huge cart of food, we set off on a journey to plan weeks of meals in advance. I’ll document the process in the next blog post, but wanted to share some of my favorite blogs and recipes on the topic so far:

Downloadable organized shopping list and recipes: http://therealisticorganizer.blogspot.com/2014/01/organized-slow-cooker-freezer-meals.html

Tips and recipes:

http://www.lifewith4boys.com/2013/09/28-meals-in-3-hours-freezer-to-crockpot.html

Simple recipes:

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/08/50-easy-freezer-meals.html

Anniversary Scavenger Hunt

For our first wedding anniversary, I planned a scavenger hunt for my husband. I hid clues around our apartment, and our cars, and he had to solve the clue to move on to the next thing. Clues lead to gifts, and to things to do- we went to brunch at a peacock-themed restaurant (influenced by our peacock-themed wedding!), made cotton candy martinis (his favorite drink we tried at a restaurant in St. Petersburg for Valentine’s Day), had homemade cheesecake (his favorite dessert) and more. It was a fun day.

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I was inspired by this scavenger hunt: http://www.staceywestbrook.com/a-valentineanniversary-scavenger-hunt/

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Cotton candy martini recipe: http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Best-Cotton-Candy-Martini-Recipe

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Cheesecake recipe: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/philadelphia-classic-cheesecake-52544.aspx

I made the cake topper myself, by finding a plain banner and typing the words over it, printing it, cutting it out, and taping it to skewers. I was inspired by this cake topper:

Cheesecake recipe:

Holiday Cookies

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I wanted to make two batches of cookies- some chocolate cookies for me and the chocolate-lovers in my life, and something for my husband and the other not-chocolate-lovers. I stumbled upon this site, which had two recipes usually substantially the same ingredients and process, one for chocolate and one for sugar cookies– perfect!

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/12/03/candy-cane-kiss-cookies/

I skipped the sprinkles, because of a shared dislike of them, and decided to make things colorful by food dyeing some of the cookies red and green.

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I also tried to spiral a few (as seen here- http://www.justataste.com/2013/10/pink-pinwheel-sugar-cookies-recipe/ ). However, spiraling cookies isn’t something you just do willy-nilly it turns out. They turned out okay, but clearly needed to actually be more carefully spiraled to turn out as pretty as they looked online.

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I followed the sugar and chocolate recipe carefully, only leaving out the sprinkles and adding some food coloring for some sugar cookies. I alternated the cookies, leaving some plain, and added the peppermint kisses to half of them.

The chocolate cookies are almost brownie-like; very moist, and super chocolatey, sweet goodness. They were good with the peppermint as well.

The sugar cookies are pretty typical sugar cookie flavor, but moist and delicious. The peppermint kiss added a unique twist to a typical sugar cookie.

Overall, I recommend both recipes, and it worked out well to make both. You can whip up the chocolate first, and let it sit in the fridge while you make the sugar cookies. I was able to get them both done pretty quickly that way. I got bags from Michael’s, to bag them and decorate with ribbons etc. to give them to friends for Christmas!

Personalized Chalk Boards

For our wedding, I wanted chalkboards in various sizes and shapes. It turns out, finding them at affordable prices was nearly impossible, so we set out to make our own. We needed:

  • Wooden materials you want made into chalkboard (I purchased the boards from Joann’s, and the picnic basket from Goodwill- Joann’s has a ton of wooden stuff, and you can use 50% off coupons, or go when they’re 60% off, etc. and get great deals)
  • A piece of chalk
  • Colored paint and brush, if you want to add borders, etc. as pictured
  • Optional addition: easels (also purchased at Joann’s on sale)

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I don’t have step by step photos, but the process is pretty simple:

1. Sand down the board

2. Tape any areas off with painters tape that you don’t want chalk board

3. Spray with chalk board paint! It may take a few layers- let each dry in between.

4. Paint the other areas, as desired.

5. Once completely dry, “Prime” the chalkboard if you want to, by covering it in chalk, and then washing it off. I primed a couple of mine, but I didn’t like the chalk residue that can be left. Since I only planned to use the chalkboards for the wedding, I stopped priming them, so they’d look perfectly clean, and just wrote on them the message they would have for the wedding day.

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Handmade Christmas Cards

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Decided to send out handmade Christmas cards this year. I stocked up on scrapbook paper, stick-on stones, Christmas stickers, pre-folded cards, red ribbon and green buttons. Above are some of my favorites! Most of the designs I saw on-line and just replicated; all are easy today without instructions. I’m artistically-challenged when it comes to drawing, so I did use templates for my shapes though!