A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Month: November 2022

Ninja Themed Birthday Party

Birthdays deserve to be a BIG celebration. Deciding on the theme is the starting point to planning the perfect party for your special kiddo!  Max always chooses a theme that makes DIY creating a lot of fun….this year was no exception.  He LOVES karate so a Ninja Themed Birthday Party won for birthday #5 for our little man.  Once the idea was settled upon, his mama’s  creative gears started turning.   After a few sleepless nights (because she CANNOT turn that brain off when she is planning) Neon Ninja came to life!

From the birthday cake…to the fun activities…to the party favors…to the food….every part of the ninja party was planned in detail!  Our family is rather large, so many of these details are planned with both the kiddos AND the adults attending in  mind.  I must take this time to say that Lauren’s parties always have a large turnout because they are always so much fun!

The Cake ~

Lauren orders all of her cakes and cookies from Becky’s Cakes n’ Caboodles.  She sends all of her crazy ideas and Becky ALWAYS rises to the occasion.

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Stir Fry Chicken & Veggies

Stir fry is such a versatile dish that you can easily cater to the tastebuds of whoever you are entertaining.  There are hardly any veggies or meat options that won’t pair well for this dish.  Chicken and beef seem to be the standard, however pork and seafood are both great options as well.  One of our favorites though is stir fry chicken & veggies.

The other awesome thing about stir fry is that you can make it as easy or intricate as you wish.  Easy would consist of frozen veggies and store bought sauces, which does indeed make a quick but wonderful meal.  However, this stir fry recipe is a little more on the time consuming side…and well worth the time put into it!

Prep Work ~

The prep is definitely what consumes most of your time when making this recipe.  However, you can do it in advance and store in the refrigerator if you wish.    The main thing you want to consider when prepping your veggies is that some vegetables cook through quicker than others.  Therefore, cut the thicker vegetables, such as carrots and celery a bit smaller.

I personally love that this recipe calls for sliced cabbage.  It is a vegetable that gets overlooked a lot (at least in our family) yet it is packed with so many wonderful nutrients.  In fact, we cook cabbage and potatoes every year as a New Year’s tradition and find ourselves saying, “I love cabbage, why don’t we cook it more throughout the year?”

Cooking Meat & Veggies Separately ~

Cooking the Chicken ~

It really does make a difference if you cook the meat separately from the veggies and add them together at the end.  Many recipes don’t call for this, but if you are taking the time to follow this recipe, don’t ignore this step!

I prefer to cook the meat first.  We prefer crispy edges on our meat, so you will see from the picture that it is cooked longer.  You can obviously cook it to your liking.  Obviously, the longer you cook it the crunchier it becomes.  If you prefer a chewier chicken, then cook less time making sure to cook it completely through.

While the meat is cooking you can prepare the delicious sauce.  Mix all the ingredients up in a small bowl and set aside for later!

Cooking the Veggies ~

Move the cooked chicken to a separate bowl and get ready for those vegetables!  I prefer to add the veggies that take a bit longer to cook in first.  Then just start layering all of the other veggies.  There is something about the beauty of a bunch of veggies all mixed together….doesn’t it make you feel healthy just looking at it?  Yum!  And let’s not forget about that wonderful aroma!

While those veggies are cooking, you need to cook your rice noodles in a separate pan.  Not all stir fry recipes call for noodles to be mixed in, but this is another reason I love this particular recipe so much!

Combining the Meat, Veggies, Noodles and Sauce ~

Once your veggies are cooked, you can add the meat back in and top them off with this yummy, yummy sauce.  Seriously, you are going to love this sauce!  In fact, we are typically very heavy seasoners, but only salt and pepper were used during the cooking process as the sauce brings out all the seasoning you will need.

Necessities for Good Stir Fry ~

*Some of the links below are affiliate links.  This means that as an Amazon affiliate, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize your purchase.

First off,  you need a good wok to cook in.  We own a couple of different ones (because we love stir fry that much!), however, the cast iron is our favorite.  They just seem to cook very evenly and retain heat very well!

However, not everyone likes cooking with cast iron….mostly because the clean up is a little more involved.  Therefore, we love ones like this as well.  I love that this one comes with so many important utensils that are used when cooking in a wok.   Not to mention that beautiful wooden lid!  Be sure to pay attention to size as well… there is a range of sizes available for you to find what suits your family best.

You will find through other cooking posts of mine that I use generic brands when possible.  I find it important to save money where you can, however, sometimes you just need a specific name brand condiment or spice that is perfect for your recipe.  This Sambal Oelek Chili Paste is one of those times.  This little jar packs flavor and heat.  Not the super hot heat (as I am not a spicy flavor girl as most of my family is), but a good flavorful heat.

Summing It Up ~

As you can see, there are several steps to this recipe:

  • Prepping the chicken and veggies
  • Cooking the chicken
  • Making the sauce
  • Cooking the veggies
  • Preparing the noodles
  • Mixing it all together and warming through

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is a more intricate recipe.  Not a hard recipe…..just more time consuming….AND OH SO WORTH THE TIME SPENT!  (*Tip:  Wash your dishes as you go because this does utilize several different bowls and pans.)  This chicken & veggie stir fry is an absolutely delicious meal that everyone is sure to enjoy!

Happy Cooking ~








33 FAVORITE Books for Kids

How do I know these are favorite books for kids you might ask?  Well…we attended a baby shower for my niece, Olivia.  She lives in a different state than all of the attendees of the shower.  Therefore, gifts were mailed directly to her home.  (That could get a little crazy getting all those gifts home, right?)  However, what is a baby shower without gifts to open?  Sooo….everyone brought their favorite children’s book for her to open at the shower.

Now, while I believe it is common to request books in lieu of cards these days, for this particular shower, people really threw their hearts into sharing their all time favorite books.  Books they read to their own children and/or books that were read to them as a child.  I  believe that since these were the “gifts” that Olivia opened, we all watched with anticipation as each book was unwrapped.  It was truly heart warming to listen to each story of why these 33 FAVORITE books for kids made the list!

33 FAVORITE books for kids ~

I am taking the time to share a link for each one.  You, of course, can also find many of these books in some of your local stores.  Even if you like to purchase your books at perhaps a local bookstore (I am a HUGE fan of bookstores!) or some other shop, you can at least learn a bit about each book listed in the link before heading out to shop!

DISCLOSURE: This site contains product affiliate links for Amazon and other companies. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

In this book, it is school picture day and Juno Valentine is having a fashion emergency!  We probably all have at least one crazy  memory from picture day, right?  😉 Follow along Juno’s adventures as she decides just how she should dress for this big day!  ***(This book was indeed perfect, as my beautiful niece is an amazing fashion designer of women’s wear.  Please check out her amazing website here!  )

Learn ways to celebrate ALL the things that make you happy each day whether big or small!  A snuggly book that has adorable illustrations!

A cute book with 10 bears that slowly decrease in number.  Not only is this a great bedtime story, but one that easily introduces subtraction.  That’s a win-win in my book!

A wonderful board book that shows kids being kind in many different situations.  It helps teach kids that kindness goes a long way in building good friendships!

A super cute book that is sure to bring laughter!  Big Foot (the Sasquatch) is naked because well, that’s just how Sasquatch’s live!  In this rhyming adventure, he explains to the ranger why he shouldn’t wear clothes!

A long time favorite of many!  Little Sal is out picking blueberries while a baby bear is too.  Will each little one go home with the correct mama?

A heartfelt book written by Dolly Parton about a little girl in need of a warm winter coat.  She is teased by her friends for being poor?  What does this sweet girl learn in the end?

The classic edition of a Christmas favorite of so many!  The illustrations in this edition are simply beautiful!  It also was a repeat gift so that pretty much sums it up that it is a necessity in every child’s library!

A fun way for young ones to learn about baby animals.  A set of 16 colorful flashcards with pictures and textures!

Enjoy the beautiful illustrations of children and animals.  Through acts of kindness, kids learn that not only are we loved, but we also matter!



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