MiMi-a great name for grandma

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

Sleepover and Spa Day With Grandkids

It turns out that you really don’t have to have a lot planned to create a day of fun with grandparents.  Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE planning fun activities.  However,  it is also fun to do the simple things that will create special memories for ALL ages.  This weekend turned out to be just that!  I packed my bag and gathered up all of my favorite skincare products (Limelife by Alcone), and we headed to my mother’s house with Lauren and the grandkids.  The end product was a fun sleepover and spa day with the grandkids…and it was absolutely perfect!

Lauren, the grandkids and I piled in the car and headed down for a day of fun with Great Grandma!  Both Lauren and I always tend to plan for every hour of the day (well, more Lauren than me these days), but we decided this would just be a day of relaxation, conversation and whatever decided to come our way…you know….just enjoy the old time fun of enjoying the simple life!

The Simple Life ~

The day brought lots of simple fun:

Story Telling
Fort Building With Boxes
Snuggle Time

These are the days that I don’t think the average person gets enough of….at least I know our family doesn’t.  Let me tell you…it is worth it to make it happen…and not just for the adults!  The littles enjoyed this day as much as we did!

As we were sitting out on Grandma’s cozy porch in the early hours of the day, I decided why not have a little “spa day.”  The coffee cup was forgotten for awhile as I pulled out my favorite skin care products.  Funny looks were turned my way at first…a spa day outside?  Why not?

Reconnecting With Old Friends ~

Let me back up a bit to talk about friends we meet throughout life.  Friendships are a funny thing…you have lifelong friends from childhood and then the many you meet along the way.  For me, friends were made through sports, college, work, kid’s classes, volunteering, kid’s after school activities and neighborhood.  So many wonderful friends have been made through the years.

So why am I talking about this random subject?  I have reconnected with many friends over the years…friends from those earlier days.  Lori is one of those friends.  We met in college and reconnected through social media (one of the things I love most about social media!)  She is this beautiful soul inside and out.  The outer beauty is enhanced even more by the skin care products she shares with others…Limelife by Alcone.  (No, I am not a rep…she is….I just love the products!)

Spa Day ~

We started with some warm washrags draped over our faces.  I believe the smiles on both faces say everything…they were loving it from the very start!  (notice the hand holding too….be still my heart!)

Next was deep cleaning with Glowing Green Toner Pads.  (These feel wonderful).  Keep in mind that I am obviously not a professional, so we may have done things out of order.  I sometimes have to reach out to Lori to remind me what is used when. 🤣

We continued on with Eye Arise (guys…seriously this stuff is AMAZING!), skin polish (also AMAZING), Sotoks and Green Smoothie.  We didn’t necessarily do it in the order listed and not everyone used every product.  The general idea was to just make them feel good and have fun!  I used Limelife because I love it, but you can obviously do your own spa day with whatever your favorite products are.

The end result was a lot of laughter and relaxation.  The girls mostly enjoyed this part of the visit, but the boys jumped in on some of the fun as well.  They had box forts to turn to when not interested!  Heck, we even had some of Grandma Judy’s favorite friends peek in on the fun!

Pssst…I think Lori has some products for those under eye bags Miss Raccoon!

We finished off the weekend with loads of yummy food, movies, playing with dolls and super heroes and golf cart rides!  We packed A LOT of fun in one night/day!  My suggestion…mix it up….simple fun and planned fun…enjoy a little of both!  (For those of you who want more “planned” ideas…check out the rest of the suggestions below!)

Want To Take It Up A Notch? ~

Are you one of those that prefers planning over just letting things happen as they may?  Consider taking it up a notch for your own spa day!

Add some special slippers for the occasion ~ Add these adorable slippers by Gygo Goods to complete the Spa Day Experience!

Mini Spa Kits????  Yes please! ~ Have a Mini Spa Kit by BubblesandSpark available for each person in your party…how fun is that?

Send each person home with a fun little gift! ~ Get these adorable Spa Day bath bombs by Wild Lavendar Bath Body

I hope of each of you can plan an overnight and spa day with grandkids….real soon!  Enjoy!

Love~

Mimi

P.S.  Are you interested in reaching out to Lori regarding Limelife by Alcone…..Click here to get more information about Limelife products from Lori!

Grilled Hamburger Bowls

What a fun way to serve up hamburgers that closely resembles a shepherd’s pie!  This recipe is great whether you are doing family night or if you are trying to wow your dinner guests!  It is truly one that is simple but looks elaborate!  Have you made any yet?  No?  Then let’s dive into the details of grilled hamburger bowls!

It’s very easy to get caught up in making the biggest and best grilled hamburger bowl, so you must remember that once it is created and grilled…you must eat it!  Keep that in mind!  My suggestion here is to go a bit smaller in diameter if you are doing individual bowls OR create a big monster that can be split between two people!

Creating the Grilled Hamburger Bowl ~

Season your hamburger liberally with your choice of spices.  One of our favorites is Montreal Steak Seasoning.  We use this on SO many dishes!   Another fantastic option is Blues Hog Bold & Beefy!


Section off the amount of hamburger you wish and roll into a ball.  Select a bowl and press it down into the ball of meat.    As you can see from the picture, I used more of a “cereal” bowl.  I will use a bowl with a flatter bottom the next time!  Regardless, you will most likely need to firm up the shape of the hamburger bowl with your hands for final stage.

This is how it should look when you are done shaping ~

Cut a piece of foil about the length of a cookie sheet.  Turn it length-wise and do a tri-fold so that you have one long strip that will fit completely around the outside of the bowl.  This will help the bowl hold its shape while cooking as well as balance the heat while cooking.  (It is also a great idea to have a piece of foil underneath to help with transition to/from the grill later!

Get Those Mushrooms Simmering ~

Rinse a package of sliced mushrooms.  Place in skillet on low heat.  For extra flavor, pour a can of french onion soup (undiluted) over the top.  We absolutely love cooking our mushrooms this way and use them as a side dish or as a topper for many meals.  If you want less onion, pour about 1/4 cup of water over the mushrooms and season with more Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Cook until softened.  While these are simmering, you can get started on the next step.

Prepare The Mashed Potatoes ~

Clean  red potatoes and cut into small chunks.  Place in boiling water and cook until softened.  Blend softened potatoes with a half stick of butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.  When using red potatoes, I leave the skins on.  If using white or Russet potatoes, I would peel them.  This obviously is according to your preference.

While the potatoes are boiling, you can start with the next step.

Let’s Get These Hamburger Bowls Stuffed ~

We are ready to fill these babies with all the goods!  Start out by filling the bottom with a handful of shredded cheese of your choice.  We used Cheddar Jack, but, of course, the sky is the limit here!

Next, add in your assorted veggies.  I cut fresh broccoli florets in small pieces.  Throw those over the cheese.  Top with sliced onions and the cooked mushrooms once done.  You can add any veggies you prefer.  Some great options are:

  • zucchini/squash slices
  • peas
  • carrot bites
  • green beans
  • white navy beans
  • peppers
  • turnips

Top With Fancy Mashed Potatoes ~

Once the potatoes are cooked and mashed, it is time to add them over the veggie mixture.  I love any opportunity to use my Easy Accent Decorator from Pampered Chef!  (I’ve included a link here to my favorite consultant, Rose Berg, in case you need a great gal!)  This baby is good for so much more than just icing…like this fun recipe, deviled eggs, etc!  It comes with 6 fun tips!

Easy Accent Decorator

Load your decorator up with potatoes and start adding some potato swirled fun to the top of your burger bowl.

Not only is this so satisfying to create but it is so much fun to serve up looking all fancy!  Now, I know not everyone has a decorating tool, so you can either create your own by snipping off a small tip from a zip lock baggie or you can just dollop potatoes on with a spoon!  Once again, I am all about options!

Let’s Grill! ~

Grill on medium indirect heat for 45 minutes or bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

These are seriously so darn good…add this to your recipe list….it will be sure to quickly become a family favorite!

Happy Grilling~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes

 

At this very moment I don’t know if I am more excited about these little delicious bites of heaven OR the fun new pan that I have discovered to make them in!  Eeek!  Too much fun….and the ideas are swirling in this old head!  For now, we will focus on this amazing little recipe of Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes!

Not only were these the perfect little St. Patrick’s Day treat, but they would also be delightful any time of the year!  The yummy mix of chocolate graham cracker crust with minty flavored cheesecake filling topped with chocolate….WOW!   Do I have your mouth watering yet?  (Mine is, I’m thinking I’m going to need to make them again today! 😊)

Mini Mint Chocolate Cheesecakes Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Baking Spray
  • Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • Mint Extract
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Andes Mints
  • Chocolate Syrup (or ingredients for homemade chocolate sauce included below)

Mini Cheesecake Pans:

Let’s talk for a minute about that fun little pan I mentioned earlier.  Seriously, this is a game changer for those who love to bake!  Use this link to get your own Mini Cheesecake Pans….I guarantee you that they will quickly become one of your favorite baking items ➡️➡️Click Here to Get Your OWN Mini Cheesecake Pans

Seriously, how fun are these???  Place the discs in the bottom of each pocket before assembling, bake, cool, then pop those discs out for a perfect finish!  No more trying to dig your baked items out and cursing as you crumble one or two along the way!  What’s even better is you can use these for sweet OR savory bite size goodies!

Are These Easy to Make?

Yes, Indeed!  You basically have four steps:

  1. Make the chocolate graham crust.
  2. Blend ingredients for the minty cheesecake filling.
  3. Pop them in the oven to bake.
  4. Once cooled, top them with your favorite toppings!

I would like to take a minute to discuss fear of making cheesecake…and it turning out!  I’ve been involved in many discussions over the years where everyone talks about the “fear” of the springform pan….me included!  While that dreaded springform pan really isn’t as bad as it seems, let me reassure you that this mini cheesecake pan is incredibly easy!

Tips on Making and Forming Crust:

It is very easy and mess-free to use a large zip lock baggie when making the crust.  Place your graham crackers in the bag, seal, then use rolling pin to obtain a crumbly consistency.  *This is a very good job to let the kiddos hep with!

When forming crust in the cheesecake cups, I like to use a pastry tamper.  I got mine from Pampered Chef years ago (another one of my all time favorite tools), but you can also get them at most stores or on Amazon.  A lot of my kitchen gadgets, baking stones, cookware, bakeware and small appliances are from Pampered Chef…they are such good quality!  Check out Rose Berg’s Pampered Chef page for all the latest fun items!

Pastry Tamper      

I also use a pastry brush to help brush the crumbs back into the cups, as you will certainly find you get some crumbs on the top of the cheesecake pan as you are forming your crusts…and you don’t want to be a messy cook! 😉

Topping Ideas:

    • Andes mints (these just look super cute and classy!)
    • Thin mint cookies (who doesn’t have an extra box of Girl Scout cookies in their freezer?)
    • Oreo mint cookies
    • Chocolate syrup
    • Chocolate Sauce …  I have used Lemon Tree Dwelling recipe and love it…Check out this AMAZING homemade chocolate sauce by Lemon Tree Dwelling…yum!
    • Chocolate sprinkles
    • Chocolate chips
    • Cookie crumbles
    • Mint sprigs (oooh…fancy!)
    • Easter is around the corner….try Hershey’s Egg Shaped White Chocolate Baking Chips 
    • (I included the link above to Amazon for easy access, but I find a lot of fun baking products at WalMart…so be sure to check them out!  They usually carry pastel colored baking chips which would be fun!
    • M & M’s (holiday colored or plain)

Basically, the options are endless for how you can top off these mini mint chocolate cheesecakes…just be creative and have fun!

I promise you the WOW factor of this little recipe far outweighs the work you have to put into making them.  I guarantee you that your guests will be coming back for seconds…or maybe even thirds!

Added Bonus:

How often are you looking for a recipe that you can make ahead and pull out when the guests are on their way?  Well, here is that recipe you have been looking for!  Keep these babies in the refrigerator and place on your serving platter.  Top them with your favorite toppings just a bit before your company arrives!  No last minute mess or fuss!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!  Happy Baking!

Mimi

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids – Round 3

The love of reading continues as we sampled yet another book club, Jambo.  Let me tell you that this book club for kids did NOT disappoint.  We received two high quality books that we thoroughly enjoyed, and we are very excited to add them to our bookshelf!  Read on for more great information on the sampling of book clubs for kids – round 3!

Jambo Book Club ~

Jambo Books offers you the opportunity to add fun multicultural children’s books to your home library.  I believe many of us get stuck in the rut of buying books that match our own personal culture.  This subscription sends you two beautifully illustrated books each month that helps teach children that all people are equal even though we all look different.

Books Included In Our Subscription ~

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree ~

This delightful story teaches kids that sometimes the most unexpected gifts bring the most joy.  A birthday list is made, however, Grandma brings a gift that is NOT on the list!  “What?  Didn’t she know what I wanted?  My list was everything electronic….not a lemon tree!”  We soon realize that this is a gift that keeps on giving in so many ways!

Bob, Not Bob!

When children are sick, they just want their mom (or dad) for comfort more than anything else.  However, when your voice gets congested, calling for mom can sound like so many other things.  This book is fun to read with all the funny antics that arise when your voice doesn’t sound quite like itself!

Both of our stories depicted children of color in everyday situations.  What a great way to help children realize that while they may have physical differences, their every day activities are the same.

How It Works ~

  1. Choose Which Age Group ~
    • Ages 0 – 2
    • Ages 3 – 4
    • Ages 5 – 6
    • Ages 7 – 9
    • Ages 10 – 13
    • Mixed Ages (Choose 2 different age groups)
  2. Choose Your Payment Plan ~
    • Month to Month
    • 3 Month Prepay
    • 6 Month Prepay
    • 12 Month Prepay
  3. Kids Enjoy Monthly Subscription Box

Benefits ~

After sampling several book clubs for kids, I definitely see some positives right away.  Listed below are some of the details I loved about Jambo Book Club.

  • Jambo book club offers a nice variety of age groups.  Many book clubs only offer about three.
  • Mixed age group option is available.  I have not yet see this awesome option available in our earlier samplings.  Many families have more than one child, so this allows you to choose two different age groups in one mailing!
  • Books don’t focus on historical or cultural facts, but instead represent everyday life of all children around the world.
  • Each month’s books come in a beautifully illustrated box that can be reused by the children.
  • It’s a great way to foster the love of all cultures.
  • The books are very high quality!

I write often about the excitement of children receiving mail.  While our world has evolved to a highly “electronic” world, some things never change.  There is still a rush of excitement when children find something in the mailbox addressed to them.  This is such a fantastic way to help children put down the electronic devices and dive into simpler times of snail mail and books!

Sampling Book Clubs for Kids – Round 3

There are many wonderful benefits to each book club as you can see from my earlier writings.  Sampling Book Clubs for Kids and Sampling Book Clubs for Kids – Round 2 were two of my earlier posts.  As you read each one, you see that club has different styles.  I have mentioned before that one club may be perfect for one while another works better for someone else.  Some include crafts while others offer a better variety of books.  I highly suggest you read my earlier posts to see some of the differences.

With that being said, I will say that Jambo books has been our favorite to date.  The many benefits listed above really resonated with me.  It helped us find books that we have not read before and the quality of the books exceeds the cost of buying the books outright.

I hope you will check out Jambo website here….Jambo Book Club!  They offer more than just a book club subscription on their website.  You will find a tab with author showcase, a blog and other high quality products such as colorful puzzles and different book bundles.

I would love to hear your thoughts….let’s talk!

Happy Reading~

Mimi

 

 

 

The ABCs of Gratitude

Here we are…three weeks into 2022.  Did you make any resolutions?  Are you still going strong with them?  Have you ever considered instead on just being grateful?  Maybe you are saying right now, “I am grateful.”   Well then, I challenge you…how deep does that gratitude go?  Let’s dive into the ABCs of Gratitude!

Like everyone else, I feel I am full of gratitude.  Recently though, I have discovered that I tend to ignore the “small” stuff…you know, take it for granted!  As I sit here typing, I look at my hands (which are not pretty and stylish like so many of my friends and family members), and I realize how blessed I am to have the ability to use my hands in the way I want.  I love to write….and my hands allow me to do that.

Heck, I have a computer!  I am definitely blessed to have a computer.  Have I ever sat and pondered why that is such a blessing?  Of course, it allows me to write….but I have started digging deeper than the obvious.  It allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends, pay my bills, watch videos and movies, research ANY topic my heart desires, create fun graphics for blogging and party planning, research my family geneology, create spreadsheets, and on and on!

What’s Your Point?

My point is, I am learning to focus deeper on the everyday things in my life AND I FEEL GREAT!  Seriously, it has given me such a sense of happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.  Is this a New Year’s resolution…No!  I just have been reading so many different ideas on finding joy in everyday life, and I believe I have hit the jackpot!

I’m sitting here in awe….seriously everyone….in AWE of just how much this little “project” is making me more grateful and appreciative in my everyday life.  Of course, now I want to share it with you in hopes that you, too, will enjoy it as much as I am.

How Do I “DO” the ABCs of Gratitude?~

The biggest recommendation I have for you is to cut out a little bit of “me” time before you start this project.  Time that you can just sit and focus….for a few minutes, for a half hour or just work on it various times over a period of several days.  That’s the beauty of it….there are no steadfast rules.

Drumroll please……..

Yes, it’s that easy!

If you are like me, you want it to be on some pretty paper, but that’s not necessary.  I am going to provide you with several free downloads if you would like to use those.  However, you can also just write it out on a plain old sheet of paper or in a journal/notebook.

The next part is where it gets a little tricky.  You can’t fill in the blanks with the items/people that you are always thankful for.  You know what I’m talking about…the spouse, the children, the grandchildren and the furry children.  That’s why you need a little quiet time so you can sit and think.

The good part is that nothing….and I mean NOTHING is a stupid answer.  Trust me on this!  You will understand that more once we get to the next step!

Free Downloads ~

I have created some fun printouts for you to use….just click on the green link after each image!

     Greenery Pattern Gratitude Sheet

        Unicorn Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Brown Floral Pattern Gratitude Sheet

 

          Superhero Pattern Gratitude Sheet

Journals & Fun Notebooks ~

You can also use a beautiful journal.  Gorgeous books filled with decorative pages make me happy.  Do you feel that way too?  Stampington & Company has amazing products.

Magical Thinking Journal by Papaya Art     This Magical Thinking Journal is perfect for the project!

Paper House Productions is another favorite online site I love:

        This Batman Mini Notebook could be a fun booklet for kids to use!

           Here is another super cute journal for writing out thoughts!

The Next Step to ABCs of Gratitude ~

Once you print out the form or get your journal, you are ready to get to work.  Think of a word for every letter of the alphabet.  Remember, I told you earlier that there is NO wrong answer.  When I did this, I first thought some of the words seemed somewhat juvenile.  What is interesting is where each word will eventually lead you!  Here is what I came up with:

My very first word was apples.  Shouldn’t it be more substantial like air or authenticity?  Well, those are good answers too, but I went with what my mind first went to.  You may find that as you think of each letter of the alphabet, it is a bit harder to come up with a word you think is “good.”

I chose to write out a word for every letter of the alphabet in one sitting.  You can follow this method or choose to go back and add to it throughout a set amount of time if you wish.  After completing the list, I sat and focused on it.

Being thankful for apples is obvious for the very reason of food and nutrition.  This is where I challenge you to go further.  Why else am I thankful for apples?

  • Wildlife –  Many animals in wildlife love apples, apple peels, etc.  I am so grateful for animals in our world.
  • Compost – Apples are good for compost…they provide a good source of nitrogen.  I love gardening!
  • Songs – There are so many fun songs to sing with your kids about apples….music makes me happy.
  • Dessert – Some very delicious desserts are made with apples…and I love desserts!

Hopefully you are getting the idea here.  Take time to focus on each word and the MANY different reasons you are thankful for it.  You have now gone beyond the obvious and focused on so many things that you may have taken for granted.  Seriously, have you ever even considered being thankful for compost???  I sure haven’t…but I am now!

I have chosen to focus on each word over several days.  It has been very fun to see where each word leads me to!  Give it a try…you may be surprised where it leads you!

Grateful to be sharing this with you…

Mimi

 

DIY Pom Pom Gnomes & More!

While I have always thought gnomes to be cute, I have to say I have not been a gnome collector….until now!  Oh my goodness!  Whether it is because they are simply adorable or that making them has become quite theraputic, I am totally enjoying these DIY Pom Pom Gnomes and More!

A quick search on Pinterest will show you MANY ways of making yarn pom poms.   I have made pom poms over the years for various crafts, and I can honestly say I have tried MANY methods!  However, the one method I refuse to try is using a purchased pom pom maker.  I try to be as thrifty as I can so that is just not an option for me…and mine have still turned out fluffy and full!

Supplies Needed ~

  • yarn
  • scissors (sharp and with pointy tip)
  • serving fork, wooden fork, credit card, or cardboard cut about 1 1/4″ wide X 1 1/4″ wide
  • hot glue gun
  • embellishments for nose:  wooden ball, small stones, pearl balls, etc.
  • toilet paper roll(s)
  • tape (for incidentals)

First of all, you need to focus on your yarn.  Any yarn will work, and I mean ANY yarn.  So what is the difference between the $4.99 yarn and the $7.99 yarn?  There are many differences, but for these DIY pom pom gnomes, it is basically the thickness.  The thicker the yarn, the less it will take to create a full ball.

How to Make Yarn Pom Poms ~

My favorite method for making pom poms is with a large serving fork.  The fork I use is about 1 1/4″ wide.  Some other methods are using a credit card or cutting a piece of cardboard to the exact size you want.  There are truly so many items you can use for this project, this has just been the method I have found I really like.

  • Cut one piece of yarn about 6-7 inches.  Place the yarn as shown in the picture above.
  • Wrap your desired color of yarn around the fork until you get the desired size and thickness.  While you are wrapping, you will leave the one piece of yarn hanging down for later use.

  • I have included a picture to give you an idea of how the pom poms will turn out according to the number of times you wrap.  The smaller ball was wrapped around the serving fork 100 times and the bigger ball was wrapped around the serving fork 200 times.

  • Once you have finished wrapping, bring the loose piece of yarn up and over the top and tie loosely.  (The reason I say loosely is to make pulling it off the fork easier when it is time!)  Hold the tied yarn piece and begin pulling the wrapped yarn off of the fork.

  • When you have pulled it completely off of the fork, tie the yarn on top tightly, double knotting it.

  • Cut through all of the loops, being careful not to cut into center where the tied piece of yarn is tied off.  It is important to have sharp scissors with a pointy tip.

  • Lightly fluff your pom pom with your hand and then trim the edges until you have desired the size you want.

Whoo hoo…you have officially made a yarn pom pom!  Great job!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  The blue pom poms I made above were not for making gnomes.  Remember, I told you there are so many fun things you can do with these?  Well, these particular pom poms became “snowflakes” in my Gizmo Snail Mail project I wrote about at the beginning of this month?  Do you remember that post?  Check out this fun post on Gizmo Advent Snail Mail ….right here!

I hid a Christmas book in the bottom of a box, added a spring mechanism on that, placed a piece of cardboard on that and then filled the box to the top with the “snowflakes.”  When the kids opened their countdown box, voila, it was an instant snow storm, compliments of Gizmo!

Back to DIY Yarn Pom Pom Gnomes & More ~

Now it is time to make those cute little hats!  You will need a small book or credit card that measures about 3″.  I use a small leather book that is 3 1/2″ X 5 1/2″.   It is a fun idea to get a little crazy with your yarn selection for the hats.  Decide if you will use a solid color, a mixed yarn or use 2 or 3 different colored yarns.

My daughter, Karleigh, created some pom pom gnomes over the weekend.  Notice she has some solid colors, some yarns that are a mixed coloring and then created her own color striped hats by using 2 different color yarns.  Notice that cute little Purdue one!  Such a cute idea to pair up with some holiday candy or a bottle of wine and gift to friends and family!  (She found it to be very theraputic to make these…bonus!)

Gnome Hat Instructions ~

  • Cut toilet paper roll into 1/2″ rings.  This will make the band of the hat.  Once you get familiar with the process, you can play around with the sizing of the hat and cut them to the dimensions you prefer.

  • Wrap the yarn about 30 times around the small book or credit card.  Snip the end.  Cut the yarn across the binding of the book.  Once you have cut through all of the yarn strands, you will have 30 strands that are about 7″ long.  Depending upon the bulk of your yarn, you may choose to cut more if needed.
  • Place one strand at a time through the toilet paper ring, forming a loop.

  • Bring the two loose ends up and through the loop.

  • Pull to tighten, being careful not to pull so tight that you tear the toilet paper roll.  *The toilet paper roll is somewhat flimsy.  If you happen to tear it while working, just wrap a piece of tape around the cut to mend.

  • Continue this until you have completely covered the toilet paper ring.
  • Tie one long piece of yarn around the top, leaving some loose at the top for the fluffy top of the hat.
  • Trim the top of hat to desired length.

  • Insert one to two cotton balls in hat to keep form.

  • Hot glue inside of hat and place on pom pom you made earlier.  Adorn with a nose of your choice.

These yarn pom pom gnomes are seriously as much fun to make as they are to gift and/or receive.  They are perfect additions to gifts for friends, teachers, co-workers, and family members.  They would also make a perfect gift topper!

Enjoy your crafting ~

Mimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Onion Smothered Chicken

Nothing says “cozy meal” more than a warm baked dish of chicken covered in caramelized onions and ooey gooey cheese….lots of ooey gooey cheese.  This French Onion Smothered Chicken recipe pairs well with a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  Yum!  Read on for this amazing family recipe that even the kids can’t get enough of!

Caramelized onions are such a wonderful addition to so many meals.  In fact, I have posted other recipes on my blog in the past.  Recipes such as Grilled Caramelized Onion, Apple and Canadian Bacon Flatbread, (which can be prepared on grill or stove top) and Caramelized Onions and Provolone Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, are both delicious recipes!

Steps for French Onion Smothered Chicken ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brown chicken breasts in olive oil.  If your chicken breasts are large, cut through them lengthwise to make thinner cutlets.  Season liberally with salt, pepper and McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning.

We prefer crispy edges, so I brown chicken longer to achieve this bit of crunchiness.  The amount of time needed to brown your chicken will, therefore, depend upon the amount of crispiness your guests prefer.

While the chicken is browning, melt butter in a separate skillet.  Slice 4 medium onions.  Place sliced onions in butter and cook until browned and soft, stirring occasionally.  This will take 10-15 minutes.

As the onions are cooking and once the chicken is cooked through, place browned chicken in bottom of a prepared baking dish.

Sprinkle one packet of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix all over browned chicken.

Once onions are cooked through, add beef broth and balsamic vinegar.  Cook this mixture on medium until it is slightly thickened.  This gives you that wonderful caramelized onion taste.

Pour the caramelized onion mixture over the chicken.  I added some extra beef broth to ensure there would be ample “onion gravy” to pour over the mashed potatoes as well.

Completely cover with shredded mozarella cheese and bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese has a nice browned texture.  You can mix shredded parmesan cheese in to for a slightly different flavor.

Serve warm over a dollop of buttery mashed potatoes.  I love to make homemade mashed potatoes, but if you are in a pinch for time, you can’t go wrong with Bob Evans Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes.  Have you tried these yet?  Wow!  They are delcious and so very much like homemade!

Other Side Dish Options ~

As stated earlier, the french onion smothered chicken pairs very well with mashed potatoes.  However, there are many other sides that would complement this yummy dish as well.

Garlic Butter Rice by Hinz Cooking is a delicious option.  This is a simple side dish that is loaded with flavor.  Another easy, yet flavorful side dish option is garlic parmesan roasted broccoli  by Easy Family Recipes.  These are just a couple of delicious side ideas, however, the beauty of this meal is that so many sides would pair nicely with it!

Whatever you decide to serve alongside this recipe, your family is sure to love this savory dish!

 

Happy cooking~

Mimi

Christmas Cookie Party

Can you smell that?  The cozy scent of warm cookies filling the whole house?  One of my favorite holiday activities is making and decorating Christmas cookies.  When my kids were younger, they would each invite a friend over for a day filled with creating Christmas cookie masterpieces as well as playing fun Christmas games.  Fast forward to 2021, these kids are now adults and yet we still get together every year for a Christmas Cookie Party!

Roll Out Cookie Recipe ~

Click Here to Print Recipe of Roll Out Cookies

In the early days I had a fun-filled day planned for all of the kiddos.  Memories of all of the kids rushing in after school all excited about the day’s events are still crystal clear in my mind!  The cookies would already be baked and placed all around the table.  Bowls of brightly colored icing  scattered all around within reach of their little hands.  Next come the paint brushes…you know the ones?  The inexpensive pack of multi-colored kid’s paintbrushes.  These served as the main decorating tool.

The Paintbrush Rule ~

If you ask any of those little bakers today, you will know the golden rule of cookie decorating.  The purple paintbrush goes in the purple icing bowl, the green paintbrush goes in the green icing bowl, the yellow paintbrush goes in the yellow icing bowl….you get the picture!  This keeps our colors fresh.    I guarantee you that when these said kids (now adults) read this they are laughing, as I am a stickler for this rule!

The small multi-colored paint brushes just like these work perfectly!

   

While I have included an easy link for you, I honestly try to gather the paintbrushes whenever I see them at the local Dollar Store or department store.  It is sometimes hard to find all of the colors you need, but collecting them over time usually proves to be successful…as long as you remember where you have stored them! 😉

Small ramekins like these are used for the many icing colors that they insist we have…ok, I insist too! 😉

 

The four primary colors are definitely not enough for this festive day!  You will need a lot of small bowls to make all of the icing colors requested.  It is much more fun if you let them create just the perfect shade of each color.  Once again those memories come rushing in, “Do you think this red is bright enough?”  “Should we do dark purple or light purple…or both?”  “Did someone make black…we need lots of black!”  “Ooooh, what about gray?”

 

The icing recipe itself is simple.  We have tried different recipes but have finally all decided this simple recipe is our favorite.  Printable version of the simple, but oh so good, icing recipe can be reached right here!

Cookie Cutters ~

We all have our favorite cookie cutter.  I continue to add new ones to the mix, but nothing melts my heart more than when I hear, “Wait a minute, did you make any snowglobe cookies?”  “Does anyone have a Christmas tree cookie they can share?” “What was this one??  A penguin, oh yea!”

Yes, sometimes the cookie shape is hard to tell what it is until you bring it to life with some color!  Other times they get broken and still get turned into a major work of art…thanks to Ali!  No, we do not have a Starbucks cookie cutter, but somehow she made the perfect latte cookie!

If I had to choose, I would say the snowglobe is one of everyone’s favorites…

It has been so much fun to watch their artistic ability change over the years.  However, no matter how beautiful they are, the taste is always the same…..delicious!  We are always careful to make an abundance so that everyone has plenty to take home and share….and to sample along the way.

When this tradition first began, the kids would start the afternoon out icing the cookies.  We would then move on to Christmas scavenger hunts and Christmas Bingo.  These activities ended with lots of festive prizes, of course.  I would send the kids home hyped up on sugar but exhausted from a fun-filled day!

The tradition has now moved to evenings as we have to schedule our Christmas Cookie Party around work schedules (that damn adulting thing always interferes!  😜).   We have a Cookie Crew text group that gets busy at the end of November working on the current year’s date.  The phone goes ping, ping, ping and voila…we have a date!  Now they all roll into the house with bottles of wine and fun Christmas gifts to share before we get to decorating!  Oh, did I mention the food?  Yes, we now have lots of savory appetizers as well.  Now instead of me sending them off exhausted and with full bellies the exact opposite happens….oh how the times have changed!

New Decorating Tools ~

We have recently upped our decorating game.  As Ali put it best, “Oh Shel, this is a game changer!”  The addition of squeeze bottles brought a whole new way of decorating to our Christmas Cookie Party fun!  Wow, these are so much fun and allow for more precise decorating.

Addi demonstrates for us…

As the years go by, we add new little ones to the crew and continue making wonderful memories.  Had I known years ago how special this tradition was going to be, I would have urged others to do the same!

One thing I know for sure is that these girls will continue this tradition and that makes me a very happy Mimi!

Photo Gallery of More Recent Years ~

(Some year I will go back to my old files to add pictures from the younger years!)

   

   

 

Now everyone get out there and get to baking…..enjoy your Christmas season!  And to you, my precious Christmas Cookie Party crew…I love you…thank you for all of the wonderful memories…and cheers to many more!

Much love~

Mimi

 

P.S.  Check out a similar post I wrote about this last year (with less details), however there are some of the fun cookie cutter links included in this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ❄

Ahhh…December!  The days are filled with kids anxiously counting down every…single…day until Christmas Eve.  Many families make the countdown fun with various advent calendars filled with candies and trinkets.  My kids loved these…as do my grandchildren!!!  Now that I am a Mimi (grandma), I have decided to create my own type of December fun while not interfering with my daughter’s advent calendar that she does with her children.  This is how advent snail mail with Gizmo came to life!

Meet Gizmo~

This fun little guy is Gizmo the fuzzy snowflake.  He will show up in the kids’ mailbox throughout the month of December spreading Christmas cheer.  This little guy will be a bit different as he will not show up daily.  The kids will never know which days he will appear, which will add a bit of suspenseful fun!

Gizmo’s Festive Responsibilities ~

The advent snail mail with Gizmo will begin on December 1 of each year.  Gizmo will introduce himself to the kids with a letter and a gift.

Use this free link to print out as many copies as needed:  Christmas Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo

Fun Gift/Craft Ideas to Include In Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ~

This being the inaugural year with Gizmo, I have decided to focus mostly on books.  There will be other small items at different times, but this is a great time to carve out some quality time reading to the kids.  Also, books are the gifts that keep on giving!  Of course, my first thought was Christmas books, which I will indeed include on some days.  However, I read a fun article about picture books adapted from famous movies and tv shows…how fun!!!  Justine, from Life In Stepping Stones, includes some great book ideas here…check them out with this link!

Books Adapted from Movies & Shows – (some with Christmas theme and some that are not) ~

These are the books that I decided to start with:

Home Alone

Elf

Back to the Future

Life Is Better With Friends

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

Coloring Activities ~

DIY Bookmarks to Color

Disney Christmas Coloring Book

 

Other Fun Ideas ~

Family Christmas Puzzle – With 3 Different Size Pieces for All Ages to Enjoy

Talking Elf Plush

Christmas Bingo

 

Christmas Tree Craft Kit

How this Works ~

After sending the initial letter to the children, you will randomly send small items of your choosing and add the 2nd Gizmo mail printout (link below)  with each succedding mailing.  I actually hand deliver the items to my grandchildren as they live close enough to me.  However, I always leave them in the mailbox for them to find when they get home from their school or other activity.  (you may be asking, I thought you said this was the inagural Gizmo…it is!  I have adapted this from my earlier post, Flat Skelly Skeleton – Halloween Snail Mail Fun.)  They have so much fun checking the mailbox each day!

Gizmo Mail Printout To Be Included With Each Gift

You decide how often you want Gizmo to visit.  It can be once a week, every other day, or any number of random days you would like to make deliveries.  Print out the above link for each time you make a delivery…and be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas.

The thought process on the gifts that I am choosing is togetherness!  I am choosing to not include individual candies/gifts/activities for each individual child, but instead sending items for them to do together.  Christmas creates a lot of anxiety in children and I believe trying to do fun things as a group helps promote getting along!  (Does this alway work?  Of course not, but we have to keep trying, right?)

Gizmo Snail Mail Recap ~

Since this is a new type of festive fun to have with kids, I am ending this post with a recap of just the essentials.

    1. Print out one copy of the Introduction from Gizmo Deliver this printout along with your first gift on December 1
    2. Choose how often you want to make Gizmo deliveries throught the month of December
    3. Print out as many of the Gizmo Countdown pages as you choose to make deliveries!  You can print these all at once or come back to this handy link each time you are preparing to make an Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo delivery!
    4. Be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas on each Gizmo Countdown page.
    5. Mail or hand deliver your festive gifts!
    6. Ask the family members to send you pictures of the kids enjoying their advent gifts so you can be a part of the fun!

Now…get out there and enjoy the holidays!

Much love~

Mimi (& Gizmo)

Christmas Gift Ideas!!🎄

Hello friends~

12-12-21 Update ~ I have added new deals in RED!  Be sure to check back regularly!!!

Christmas is around the corner and I would love to help you out with your shopping needs as best I can.  I have been given promo codes for various items that last for specific amounts of time.  Some specials run longer than others and all are available until the date stated OR until they run out of the product.

This is not my typical type of post, however, I do like to pass along savings to you…my friends and loved ones!  I love sharing good deals!  Yes, I do receive a small commission but this in no way affects your price…it is a win win!  I seriously just LOVE to pass along good things!  Are you looking for something specific?  Let me know and I will keep my out for you!

I will update this page every 1 to 3 days…depending upon when new codes are given to me.  SO CHECK BACK REGULARLY.  I will make sections with labels for each one stating the date that each sale is good for.   Once a date has passed, I will remove all items under that date for ease of reading.

Please note, items will show at the regular price until you go to check out.  The sale price will show before you place your order.  I believe the discount will decrease if you purchase more than one item at a time, so please pay close attention to the prices.

 

Promo Codes Good Through 12-15-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Computer Folding Desk

Regular Price $82.00

Sale Price With Link Above $41.00

5 Foot Long Tunnel

Regular Price $15.44

Sale Price With Link Above $12.35

Promo Codes Good Through 12-18-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Learning Tablet for Children-Laugh & Learn 123ABC Electronic Activity Pad with Lights, Music, Content for infants too!

Regular Price $79.99

Sale Price With Link Above $16.00

Promo Codes Good Through 12-21-21 (or while supplies last!) ~

Up to 20% Off

Simple Joys by Carter’s

Up to 20% off Simple Joys by Carter's and Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson Baby Toddler and Kid's Apparel

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