YOU’RE A SUP ‘HERB’ TEACHER

It’s teacher appreciation week around our house and we have lots of fun things planned for our teachers. One of my favorites is this very simple fresh herb gift. I LOVE how simple and cute this turned out! Teachers love things that are usable and fun and this meets both of those requirements!

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All you need to make this quick and easy teacher gift is a brown paper lunch bag, some small decorative clothespins (I found mine at Michaels), a fresh potted herb (I found organic ones at Wegmans) and a gift tag. Here is the link if you want to print out the gift tags I used. Just print on card stock and cut them out. I used the gift tags on the second page and a 3 inch round punch to cut mine out. 

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First, you will fold down the paper bag about half way by 1 inch increments. This does not need to be exact. Since not all potted herbs are in the same size container, just fold the bag down until you are covering the small plastic pot the herb is in. I had to fold mine down about half way.

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My fresh herb came in a plastic sleeve so I just rolled it down around the base in order to keep the instructions in there. Next, place your herb into the paper bag.

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Lastly attach the gift tag with a fun clothespin and that’s it! Aren’t they just so cute???!!!

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I hope you love these as much as I do!

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ST. PADDY’S DAY LUCKY PENNY

I’m not quite sure how we got to the middle of March already since it seems like it was just February about a minute ago. One of my favorite things about March is St. Patrick’s Day. Our family isn’t Irish but we love to celebrate this holiday with the best of them! Actually, we celebrate every single holiday we can think of! We are just THAT family.

I have my favorite St. Paddy’s day treats, food, drinks, and crafts that we do every year. For breakfast we make green shamrock pancakes and green milk. We make rainbow fruit kabobs and for dinner, I make Reuben sandwiches and homemade coleslaw. My hubby doesn’t like cooked cabbage so when we started dating I came up with this non-traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage so that we could celebrate the day in style! It is so good that we look forward to it all month long. I’ll post the recipe for this very soon, I promise!

We’d love to hear about your St. Patrick’s Day family traditions too.

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This year, we decided to make a fun treat for our school friends to celebrate the holiday. While searching Pinterest for ideas, I found this great St. Paddy’s Day Lucky Penny craft on the See Vanessa Craft blog.  She includes detailed instructions and a free printable too! Thanks Vanessa for sharing this wonderful craft idea with us!

I simply downloaded her free St. Patrick’s Day Lucky printable, printed on cardstock and then cut out using scissors.  It looks best to use shiny pennies for this craft so we conducted our very own science experiment! We collected all the pennies that we could find around the house and in the bottom of my purse. Then we mixed vinegar and salt together and cleaned our pennies to bring back their shine. The kids loved this part of the craft the most. Have you ever tried this? The old pennies are covered in copper oxide which will dissolve in the vinegar and salt mixture.

Here’s what you need:

Lots of pennies

White vinegar

Salt

Tupperware container

Paper towels

Here’s how you do it:

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Mix together 1/4 cup of vinegar and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Make sure you are using a plastic tupperware container for this. Drop 5 – 6 pennies into the mixture and gently shake the bowl for 10 – 15 seconds. Rinse pennies with tap water, set on paper towels and pat dry. Most of your pennies will shine like new. Those that don’t can be set aside.

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Check out how shiny our pennies got using this nifty trick! We used our shiniest pennies for this craft.

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We attached shiny pennies to the center of each shamrock using hot glue. I tried letting my oldest use the glue gun and she barely burned the tip of her finger on a bit of the glue. I felt bad because I know how much this hurts. I’m sure this won’t be her last injury since she is quite the crafter like her mommy.

 

The kids are very excited to give these lucky pennies out to their friends this week!

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SIMPLE BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP

Some days we have it all together and follow our meal plan for the week. Other days, we find ourselves in a pinch. There are many times that I need a quick and easy dinner recipe that everyone in my family will be excited to eat.  In order to stay on track with our healthy eating and budget,  I always keep simple ingredients around for dinners when we are in a pinch. One of my favorite dinner recipes is beef vegetable soup. You can keep everything on hand in the pantry and fridge or freezer for whenever you need it. If you are planning to make the soup, use fresh ground beef. Or, cook your ground beef in advance and then freeze. When you are ready to make soup in a pinch, just add the ground beef that you’ve thawed!  We always have cooked ground beef and ground turkey in our freezer for quick dinners. Trust me….you should try this! 

 

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Ingredients:

1 can minestrone soup (I prefer Trader Joes brand)

1 can organic sweet corn

1 can organic black beans

1 can organic diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (green beans, peas, carrots, etc.)

1 lb lean, ground beef

 

Here’s how you make it:

Over medium heat, cook ground beef until well done. Drain any fat.

In a dutch oven, add your minestrone soup, corn, black beans and diced tomatoes. Do not drain any liquid out of the cans. Add in the frozen mixed vegetables. Heat soup over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat, add cooked ground beef, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Enjoy this delicious and easy recipe that your whole family will love!

 

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QUINOA SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND FETA

Have you heard that saying that you shouldn’t eat anything you can’t pronounce…..except quinoa? So funny and yet so true. We pronounce it “Keen-wah” in our house. After doing a bit of research online to get a final answer on this, I realized that there are different ways to say it and apparently some pronunciations are considered snobby. LOL.

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People often think that quinoa must be hard to make at home. I felt that way too and was ridiculously intimidated by the thought of making it. Of course, once I bought some, I realized that it is so, so simple to make. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the back of the quinoa bag! Seriously….it is that easy. We love to cook ours in the rice cooker but recently I found some pre-cooked quinoa in the freezer section at Trader Joes (score!!!).

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Here’s an easy and delicious recipe that we love to eat (and did I mention it is healthy too?). It makes a great side salad or vegetarian meal. This week we’ll be eating this as a side dish with our grilled garlicky shrimp. I may even have eaten a big bowl for lunch. Yum, yum, yum!

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Quinoa Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/3 cup artichoke hearts in water, drained and roughly chopped

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed

1 cup diced bell peppers (I used 1/3 cup each of yellow, orange and red peppers)

1 cup arugula

1/4 – 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

 

Dressing Ingredients:

2 T olive oil

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 T key lime juice

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

salt and pepper to taste

 

Here’s how you make it:

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, cumin, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, artichokes, black beans, bell peppers, arugula and feta. Stir in the dressing and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Add salt and pepper before serving if needed. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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CHRISTMAS BUBBLES

Cheers to all of you! I just adore Champagne and bubbles during the holidays. There is just something so festive about a glass of bubbly to put a smile on your face. Bubbly alone is delicious but sometimes kicking it up a notch is so much fun.

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Here’s a simple and festive way to update your glass of bubbly Christmas-style!

Ingredients:

Bubbly

Creme de Cassis

Fresh Cranberries

Sugared Sprigs of Rosemary (or plain)

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Pour a glass of good bubbly and add a generous splash of Creme de Cassis. Voila, instant Christmas drink! Next, add a few fresh cranberries and a sprig of sugared rosemary!

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Note: To make sugared rosemary sprigs, simply bring to a boil 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of white sugar. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then dip your rosemary sprigs in the liquid. Shake off excess and sprinkle your rosemary sprigs with granulated sugar to coat. Set aside and let dry completely. Then add to your favorite drink or dessert.

Yum, yum, yum! I love everything about this drink!

 

Cheers friends!

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CHRISTMAS MARSHMALLOW PENGUINS

Hello friends! We have been truly enjoying this wonderful Christmas season and I hope you have as well. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to bake and make goodies for friends and family. We make fudge, cookies, and pretty much anything we are in the mood to make! This year we made a few goodies from my childhood days and attempted new treats too. I am so excited to share this latest Christmas treat with all of you today.

I was poking around on Pinterest last week and found these adorable and mostly healthy Marshmallow Penguins by Eats Amazing. I fell in love with their adorableness and knew I had to make these with the leftover marshmallows I had in the pantry! 

 

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Here’s what you need to make these:

Marshmallows (regular size)

Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Candy eyes

M&Ms

 

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First, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave. I started with 30 second increments and then 15 second increments, mixing after each until the chocolate was very smooth. Next, grab your marshmallow from one edge and dip each side in the chocolate, leaving about a thumb’s width of marshmallow showing (this will form the stomach of the penguin). Lastly, dip the head in the chocolate, about halfway down the front of the marshmallow. These form a slight tail in the back. I pressed mine down slightly to smooth it out but a small amount may form at the bottom which is totally fine. Pop these in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the chocolate.

Using a toothpick, add chocolate to glue the eyes on the penguin. I found it easiest to place the chocolate on the marshmallow and stick the eyes on afterward. Cut each m&m in half using a sharp knife. These will cut more cleanly if you do a quick, swift chop. They do not need to be perfect! I used red and green m&ms but you can use any color you would like. Using the toothpick, add chocolate to the cut side of the m&m and place on the marshmallow to form a nose. And that’s it! Can you believe how easy these are to make? They took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

 

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I placed these on a cake plate with shredded coconut dusted with powdered sugar. They make an adorable centerpiece! You will definitely impress your family and guests with these and they are so easy to make. 

 

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Merry Christmas!

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CORK WINE CHARMS

Today I wanted to share with you a fun and simple wine cork craft that I put together. These cork wine charms are just so cute! Now most of you probably have wine corks laying around the house and if you’re anything like me, you save them all for crafts.  Over the years I’ve made all sorts of wine cork crafts including ornaments, pumpkins, monogram letters, coasters, cork boards… You get the idea! This is my latest creation and I wanted to share it with all of you!

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The best thing about this craft is that you can customize these wine charms with any kind of a scrapbook paper that you already have on hand or for a theme or holiday. For today’s project I created a couple different versions and they turned out great. You will need a few supplies in order to make these.

Supplies

wine corks

sharp kitchen knife

0.5 inch jewelry eye pins (I found these at A.C. Moore)

jewelry hoop with loop (20 mm) – I found this to be the smallest size available at the craft store but any size will work

needle nose pliers

gloss mod podge

small craft paintbrush

cutting board

1/2 inch craft punch

thick scrapbook paper (you will need four different patterns/items for four wine charms)

 

Here is a close-up of the eye pins you will need. If you are unable to find the correct length, just purchase longer ones and cut them down to the correct size using wire cutters. You just need them to fit inside the cork without sticking out the bottom.

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Here is a close up of the jewelry hoop with loop. Again, you may not find this exact size but it doesn’t really matter because these simply fit around the stem of the wine glasses. Get something as close to this as possible.

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To get started, you need to look through your wine corks and find some that don’t look extremely dried out. These will make the best wine charms for this project. Also, make sure you use real corks and not the plastic or rubber ones. Using your sharp kitchen knife, slice off the very end of the wine cork and discard. Next, cut four even slices of the wine cork. These will make four wine charms. I have found that I can get 4 circles out of one wine cork and so you will use one wine cork for a set of four wine charms.

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Now that you have your cork circles, you will want to put a good coating of mod podge right on top of the cork circles. Once these are dry, you will want to quickly put a light coat of mod podge around the edge of the cork (the sides). Let these dry completely and then flip them over.

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Next, take your 1/2 inch craft punch and punch out circles from your scrapbook paper .  Make sure you have four different patterns or items.

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Next, put mod podge on the unfinished side of the cork circles.  Then put mod podge on the back of the paper circle and press firmly onto the cork circle. Make sure to press the edges firmly down. Then coat the entire top of the circle with additional mod podge. At this point you will probably be concerned that everything is coated in white glue. But, do not be disheartened. The mod podge will dry clear and give it a glossy finish.  Repeat until all four circles are done.

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Once these have dried you’ll be ready to assemble the hardware. I have found that it is much easier to insert the eye pins using needle nose pliers but I have also done it by hand.

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Firmly grip the top of the eye pin and push it into the wine cork at the top. Make sure that you have pressed it all the way down and that the only part that is sticking out of the wine cork is the little metal circle. Repeat this for each cork circle.

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Now you will want to work with your jewelry hoops. You will need to bend the very end of the hoop with your needle nose pliers so that you create a way to hook it into the loop. You basically want to grip the very tip, possibly 1/8 ” or less, hold it firmly with the needle nose pliers. Bend the wire back toward you in a swift motion to create a very small 90° bend in the wire.  Now you will have a way to securely close your hoops around your wine glasses. It’s a bit hard to see the detail in the picture but if you look closely, you can see the bent wire right in front of the loop. This will be pushed up into the loop to secure it around the wine glasses.

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Once you have finished all four of these, you can hook your cork circles onto each one of the hoops and they are ready for use. Voila, you now have beautiful wine charms for your wine glasses!

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I really love how these turned out! Check out my polka dot wine charms that are great any time! These look really cute on my wine glasses. You can also turn these into adorable gifts by tying them onto a small piece of paper with a piece of raffia.

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Here are the ones I made for Christmas gifts! So, super cute!

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ZUCCHINI LASAGNA ROLL-UPS

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was one of those things that I just threw together on a whim. I was craving lasagna and comfort food now that the weather is cooler but I wanted to avoid all the carbs. Let’s just say that my hubby was very, very skeptical about zucchini lasagna. LOL!

I took just a few minutes to make this for dinner and the house smelled so good all afternoon. I actually left the lasagna to keep warm in the oven until dinnertime. Everyone loved this so much. I cannot even begin to tell you how good this was! My hubby even had seconds!

Trust me, if you love lasagna, you will want to make this recipe!

 

Ingredients

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3 medium-sized zucchini

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (I prefer Red Gold Brand)

15 ounces low-fat ricotta

16 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded

1/4 cup plus 2T Parmesan cheese, grated

Italian Seasoning

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking dish. I prefer to use a round glass dish for this recipe but anything you have on hand will work.

Reserve 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and 2 T parmesan cheese for the topping.

Take each zucchini and slice off the top and bottom. Stand the zucchini on one end and then make thin slices from top to bottom. These will not be perfect and that is ok. Just make sure they are slightly bendable.

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Mix together the remaining mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheeses. I sometimes find it easier to mix this by hand to make sure all the cheese are well incorporated.

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Smear about 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture onto each zucchini slice and then roll up. Some of these will be stiffer than others and that is ok.

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You will find that as you place them in your dish, some of them will unroll. Just keep adding zucchini roll-ups and fixing the ones that unroll. As you fill up your dish, they will stay put together.

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Pour the remaining sauce over your zucchini roll-ups.

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Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.

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Cover the baking dish and then cook for 45 minutes or until the entire dish is bubbling, especially in the center.

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Turn the oven off. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish and return to the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.

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You can leave the dish in the oven that has been turned off for up to an hour to keep warm. Look at how delicious and cheesy it looks! Yum, yum, yum!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

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ETSY GIFTS FOR FITNESS FANATICS

I’m always looking for unique Christmas gifts and what better place to search than Etsy! I’ve been spending way too much time on there the past few weeks looking for the best fitness gifts. There is a little bit of everything on my list so I’m sure you’ll find something fun to add to your shopping (or wish) list.

Here are my top 12 picks……

 

1 . Everything Hurts and I’m Dying Workout Tank

 

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2. Fitness Wall Calendar

 

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3. Will Run For Wine Running Shoe Tags

 

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4. Don’t Wish For It, Work For It Wall Decal

 

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5. Gym? I Thought You Said Gin! Tote Bag

 

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6. Make Healthy Choices Stamped Spoon

 

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7.  She Thought She Could So She Did Necklace

 

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8. Motivational Soap

 

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9. Fitness Journal

 

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10. I’d Flex But I Like This Shirt Shirt

 

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11. Goal Outfit Motivation Hanger

 

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12. No-Slip Yoga Headband

 

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Happy Shopping!

HOLIDAY SANGRIA WITH CINNAMON

Who says Sangria is just for warm weather??? Not me! I love a festive Sangria all year round.

Here is a really fun twist on a festive sangria that will have you refilling your glass! The twist….well, the twist is the cinnamon stick! It adds a delicious flavor punch that is unexpected and wonderful! You will love serving this at Thanksgiving and during the holidays.

This Sangria is so, so good! You must make it and let me know what you think!

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Ingredients

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1 Bottle Sauvignon Blanc wine

1/2 cup Cointreau

2 Tbsp bottle key lime juice

1/4 cup simple syrup (homemade recipe below)

1 red d’anjou pear, cored and chopped

1 orange, sliced and then quartered

1 gala apple, cored and chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

 

Directions

Simple Syrup: Take 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar and mix with 1/4 cup of water. Microwave until sugar is melted (about 1-1.5 minutes). Stir and chill. This will make more than you need for the Sangria Recipe.

Sangria: Mix wine, 1/4 cup chilled simple syrup, Cointreau and lime juice in a pitcher. Add fruit and stir. Chill for a few hours in the fridge and then serve over ice.

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Enjoy!

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