MiMi-a great name for grandma

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

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Mediterranean Couscous/Farro Salad

Many days I am happy that I recently discovered my dairy sensitivity because it has made me explore new foods that I have never cooked with before.  White rice, brown rice, wild rice, and different forms of pasta noodles were our staples before now.  These have been basically replaced with couscous, farro and quinoa.  Mediterranean Couscous/Farro salad is a perfect example!

Although couscous looks like a grain, it is technically a pasta made from semolina.  There are three types of couscous and I cook with the Lebanese form which is the largest in size and is often called pearl couscous.  It does take longer to cook but is worth the wait.  Farro is an extremely nutritious grain.  It is a much healthier alternative to rice.

Mediterranean Couscous/Farro Salad ~

One only has to type Mediterranean Couscous Salad into the Pinterest search line and you will get numerous versions of this recipe.  I added a link in one of my posts recently that took you to one of the recipes I tried and loved ➡️➡️Surviving a Dairy Free Life – With Recipes!  Since first trying some of these recipes, I have tweeked them a bit to come up with something a bit different.

The basic ingredients are typically the same in most recipes you see.  One of the biggest differences is that I mixed couscous and farro in the same dish.  What is awesome about making Mediterranean Couscous/Farro Salad is you can add in items you may need to use up from your fridge and it’s still amazing.  The dressing you use is basically what makes the  biggest difference in my opinion!

Ingredients ~

  • Pearl Couscous – 1 1/2 cups
  • Farro – 1 to 1 1/2 cups
  • Garlic – minced – 2 to 3 cloves
  • Chicken or Vegetable Broth – 32 ounce
  • Bell Pepper – Orange, Red, Green and/or Yellow – diced -I used only 1 orange bell pepper
  • Onion – Red and White – diced- 1/2 each of medium sized onion
  • Tomatoes – diced (whatever is in season – Cherry, Roma, Campari, Plum, etc) – 1 1/2 cups
  • Banana or Poblano Pepper – diced – 1 pepper
  • Black Beans (or beans of choice) – 1 can
  • Basil – to taste (I used about 3 tsp)
  • Salt & Pepper – to taste
  • Green Onions – dehydrated or fresh – chopped – 1/2 cup fresh or 2 Tbsp dehydrated
  • Tbsp. Olive Oil – divided – 4 Tbsp + 1/4 cup
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tsp. or 1 lemon juiced
  • Red Wine Vinegar – 2 Tbsp
  • Scallion Oil – 1 Tbsp.
  • Feta Cheese – For those who are NOT dairy free like my husband 😜

Instructions ~

Heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil in pan.

Add garlic and onion.  Cook on medium-low heat until translucent.  (A good garlic press is so important to have in the kitchen….I personally love the ones with the built in cleaner to help get all the bitty pieces out!)

Toss in couscous and farro.  Cook until browned (about 5 minutes).

Add chicken/vegetable broth.  Start with half of the 32 ounce container.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium/low heat.  Add broth as needed to keep the couscous and farro moist.

Remove from heat and let cool.

In separate bowl, add bell pepper, tomatoes, poblano pepper, black beens, green onions, basil salt and pepper.

Mix veggies with cooled couscous/farro mixture.

Whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and scallion oil.  Add in a bit of extra basil, salt and pepper.  I love using a salad dressing shaker when making all of my dressings.  Toss the ingredients into the dispenser, make sure top is closed and shake until mixed.  Then move the top piece over to pour.  Such a great tool from countertop creating to kitchen table. In fact, many times I leave a dressing “undressed” and let everyone top their own according to their preference.

As stated above, you can add in so many different ingredients according to taste or just what you need to use up in your fridge.  I do always try to add some type of pepper in addition to the bell and green pepper.    The poblano is one of my favorites because it doesn’t pack a lot of heat but still gives some great additional flavor.  However, I do use other spicier peppers at times too because my husband prefers a lot of spice!

I would like to also note that it is very common to use chick peas in this recipe, which are very good.  I had to make a change due to food allergies.  What I have found when making the Mediterranean Couscous/Farro Salad is that many different “beans” are good in this recipe so choose your favorite and enjoy!

Pairings ~

This salad is awesome when paired with grilled salmon!  However, it is truly a great accompaniment to almost any main dish…or honestly it is great served as the main dish as well!  I love making it for dinner and then using the leftovers for lunch….meal prep at it’s finest!


Have you tried this recipe?  Let me know in the comments below!  I look forward to hearing from you!

P.S.  Are you looking for some other fresh recipes?  Check out my delicious stir fry chicken and vegetable recipe here!

Happy Cooking ~


The Newcomer – A Book Review

Letty Carahan has found her sister, Tanya,  dead and is now on the run.  Making things more interesting is that she has “abducted” her neice, Maya, as well.  Did she actually find her dead or is SHE the murderer as Tanya’s ex is claiming?  As the story unfolds, we are left to decide who the actual murderer is.  See what you think as you follow along in The Newcomer – A Book Review.

The Newcomer is the 28th book that Mary Kay Andrews has authored but the 18th under this pen name.  Her pen name was inspired by the names of her children.  The change in name also found her writing in a different style as well, which found her hitting the New York Times bestselling author list!  Prior to this, she has written 10 mystery books under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck.

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DIY Sock Bunnies

It’s time for a little spring crafting and these adorable DIY sock bunnies are a perfect project to get you started!  This is one of those crafts that you probably have most (if not all) of the items needed laying around your house!  Another craft that you can get creative with on the embellishments.  Let’s have some bunny crafting fun!

You may remember that I am part of a monthly Sustainable Craft Challenge with several other very crafty women.  Julie Nyano gives us a theme to work with each month and we need to use at least one element that is sustainable/eco friendly.  January’s theme was WARM so I crafted a  DIY Snowy Luminary and February’s theme was LOVE, and I shared a DIY Valentine Branch Tree with you.  This month’s theme is SOFT!  Read on to see how to make sock bunnies as well as many other awesome soft crafts!

DON’T Throw Away Those Mismatched Socks!

What do you do with those poor lonely single socks that have lost their mate?  When my kids were young we would often make sock puppets or they made a great dusting “glove” for the kiddos.  My daughter, Karleigh, would just wear mismatched socks…she went through a period where that was cool! (It drove me bonkers!😜)  There are tons of great ideas out there to utilize those old socks that are never going to warm your little toesies again….the DIY sock bunnies are one of those great ideas!

Longer socks will work best for this project but you can complete these with almost any size sock.  Keep in mind that the smaller the sock, the smaller your embellishments will need to be and that gets a little tricky (especially if you have chunkier fingers like me!).  Once you start making these you will have a hard time stopping!

Items Needed ~

  • Sock
  • String
  • Rice
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks – or Sewing Items
  • Ribbon
  • Embellishments
  • Scissors
  • Pinking Shears (optional)

Making The Body ~

Fill a sock with rice.  The amount of rice you will use will vary according to your desired final outcome.  Once you fill it about a quarter of the way start pinching where you think you should tie the string to form head and body.  If it doesn’t seem quite right, then add (or take away) rice to your liking.  Keep in mind that you want to have plenty of leftover at the top of the sock to create floppy ears.

Once you get it filled to your liking, tie some heavy type of string to form the body and then another piece to tie off the top of the head.

It’s Time For Those Bunny Ears ~

Pull the top part of the sock up in the air and cut down the middle of the sock.  Find the middle of the sock and start cutting down the middle to form the ears.

Continue cutting all the way down to the top of the head of the sock bunny.

It’s starting to look like a cute little bunny…am I right?  Now you need to fold the ears in length longways to create a finished ear.  Pull each ear up and round off the top of them.

Now you are ready to adhere the edges.  You have two options here:

  1. hot glue down the edges
  2. sew down the edges

Hot gluing is obviously the easiest and quickest method.  I actually love the finished look of both methods.  I did find that when I sewed them it gave the ears a more “ruffly” look.  You get to decide what look you like best!  Below is the bunny with the sewn ears.

DIY Sock Bunnies Embellishments ~

Now it is time for bows and scarves (or whatever you decide to embellilsh your baby with).  I have an assortment of wired ribbon that makes it easy, however, I found that I enjoyed cutting strips of material with my pinking shears too!  It is helpful to attach the bows first to see how much “face” space you have left for the eyes, nose and whiskers.  There is some trial and error here depending on the size of your sock bunny.

Playing around with some old scrap material can be fun to see what the finished look will be.  For me, it was helpful as I discovered that some materials I thought would be great didn’t give me the “look” that I was going for.  Trial and error at its finest!  You might even want to put some cute little flower bead or fun jewel at the center of the bow.

You can also cut off the cuff of extra socks to create a scarf type look.  Cut the entire cuff and then place it around the neck.

The Cute Little Nose & Whiskers ~

The sky is the limit with the objects you can use for the face embellishments.  Small wooden half balls came in very handy for the nose.  I also love the cute little pink bead for the nose!  For those of you who like to work with embroidery floss, it would be easy to do a few quick stitches to make a nose that way as well!

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.  Thank you for supporting my small business!

Jute or hemp both have a great weight to them that works great for the whiskers.  It works best if you hot glue the whiskers first and then add an extra dollop of glue on top of the whiskers to place the nose.  It seems to secure the whiskers on much better.  A Cherry On Top Crafts is a great place to get new supplies if needed!

What About Those Eyes ~

Small flat back resin round crystal beads became eyes for mine.  I played around with buttons too but decided I like the soft shimmer of these resin crystal beads.

The striped bunny (isn’t she so cute?) ended up with the black stripe right where I needed the eyes to go.  I wanted the eyes to stand out more so I glued the black crystals on a white button to make them pop.  How does your sweet bunny look?

March Sustainable Craft Challenge ~

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, this project is part of a very fun craft blog hop.  I hope you have as much fun as I did creating these “soft” and adorable bunnies.  Bonus…you get to also check out all of these other amazing “soft” crafts by my fellow bloggers.  You’re going to love them!  Check out each of their links in green below!

Julie ♥ Sum of their StoriesUpcycled Sweater Easter Gift Bags

Gail ♥ Purple Hues and MeLoopy Yarn Lamb Treat Jar

Christine ♥ Christine’s CraftsDIY Hair Towel Wrap

Marci ♥ Stone Cottage AdventuresDIY Cozy Weighted Warmer

Allyson ♥ Southern SunflowersNo Sew Drop Cloth Bunny Pillow

T’onna ♥ Sew Crafty CrochetCrochet Tabby Cat

Julie ♥ Treasures Made From YarnStash Buster Blanket

Mel ♥ Decor Craft DesignUpcycled Bottle Vases With Soft Spring Colors

Niki ♥ Life as a LEO WifeFarmhouse Chunky Yarn Wreath for Spring

Aren’t these all so fun?  This is my third month to participate in this Sustainable Craft Challenge and I just love everything about it.  I have found myself focusing on items I throw away and thinking about how I can use it for something else instead.  Last month’s challenge found me diving in very seriously to the other blogger’s posts and creating some very fun new crafts!

Happy Crafting My Friends !

Love Mimi







The Last Flight – A Book Review

*Contains spoilers – Contains Book Club Discussion Questions*

How far would you go to save your own life?  It’s a compelling question that thankfully most of us have not had to think about.  However, the two main characters in this book do!  Both Claire and Eva are plotting ways to save themselves but both for different reasons.  Do they succeed?  Dive into my new post about The Last Flight – A Book Review.

Author, Julie Clark, does a fantastic job hooking you from the very beginning.  We quickly meet both main characters and then are taken back and forth between their lives in an easy flow of Claire’s frightening present day life and Eva’s tragic past life.   We get a small glimpse into their lives colliding early on but don’t fully understand how their “chance” meeting was actually meticulously planned early on.

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Surviving A Dairy Free Life

Two weeks ago I discovered that I am allergic to dairy…and I am ok with it!  You think I’m crazy for thinking that?  I can understand your thoughts, but if you knew my health history through the years you would understand.  I left the doctor’s office in tears…not from knowing I have to change my world a bit but rather from happiness that I FINALLY have some real answers.  Now it is time to learn all about surviving a dairy free life!

I have been put through test after test….after test through the years.  The blanket answer back then was Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Can you say Metamucil?  Please understand that I am not saying Metamucil isn’t a good product, but it only works for specific situations….which just happened to NOT be what I needed.  There was never a full battery of blood tests run on me until 2023!  My loved ones urged me (well pushed is more like it!) to go to a functional medicine doctor and I FINALLY listened.

The Medical Results ~

An extensive blood panel was performed and voila…dairy (and a few other things that I will get into later) is the culprit!  Through teary eyes I looked at the results that the doctor was going over with me and asked her, “Do I dare hope that THIS is truly what is wrong with me?”  Well, it’s only been a few short weeks, but friends I cannot even begin to tell you how much better I am feeling already.

Brad and I headed out to SO MANY health food stores to get our pantry set up with all the new food items I would need to switch to.  *Brag alert….my husband has been truly amazing with all of this…from shopping with me and scouring food labels to trying out new dishes with me (which if you know Brad….well, you just know!)   The items I can eat became a bit more difficult because I am also allergic to coconut, vanilla, oats and garbanzo beans.  These just happen to be many of the items that are substituted in dairy free products…ugh!

So What Now? ~

With all of that being said, I want to explain why I am blogging about it!  You already know that I love to write about food…we will still be bringing you amazing recipes for those without restrictions.  I am just adding an extra tab under Recipes named Dairy Free.  Even if you aren’t dairy free, I promise you, you are going to want to check out some of these recipes because …. well because even Brad likes them!  🤣

I also am going to get very personal with you right now because I think it is important to be transparent.  I have struggled with diarrhea horribly for years.  The word colonoscopy literally just makes me cry. (not kidding!)  It’s a horrible thing to never know when it is going to hit you.  (Speaking of that, did you know that Duluth Trading Co. sells Sh!t Kits?  I kid you not…and they are a very wonderful thing!)  Let me just tell you, that already (several weeks into my new diet) I have gone out to eat several times and have not had to run to the bathroom.  I drink coffee…and nothing!  It’s freaking amazing!

Recipes We Have Tried…and Loved ~

The first recipe that I made was Mediterranean Couscous Salad.  I had cooked with couscous quite a while back and wasn’t a big fan.  This time I bought a different brand, and for us, that made a big difference.  Let me clarify, it wasn’t so much the brand but the size.  I had no idea until now that there are 3 different sizes of couscous.  We like the pearls which are larger (and to me not as mushy).  I’m including a link to the brand we love, but obviously you can get it at most stores.

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.  Thank you for supporting my small business!

I actually really love Bob’s Red Mill brand of many products!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad ~

Jessica Gavin from Jessicagavin.com pinned this delicious Mediterranean Couscous Salad which is incredible.  It is so delicious that Brad took some for lunch the next day….and that NEVER happens!  Use the link in green to get her recipe.  I had to change a few things to meet my dietary needs:

  • Garbanzo beans – removed (unfortunately)
  • Feta cheese was a no for me but a yes for Brad so I just kept let him top his salad as he wished
  • Extras of the other veggies were substituted to make up for the loss of garbanzo beans
Salmon and Crushed Cucumber Grain Bowl ~

WOW!  This was so good!  Instead of cooking the salmon on stovetop as they did,  Brad smoked salmon for ours and it was delcious.  I’m also a little funny about seafood leftovers and by smoking the salmon it does last longer in the refrigerator than conventionally cooked salmon.  This allowed for a delicious lunch the next day!  Use this link for the Wild Alaska Salmon and Crushed Cucumber Grain Bowls by Purewow.com here!

Using the fresh herbs is vital to the freshness of this dish.  Farro which is a high protein, high fiber whole grain wheat, helps to give you that “full” feeling that you don’t always get when eating salmon alone.  Also, as stated earlier, I love Bob’s Red Mill products so that is the farro I used!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread ~

There really weren’t a lot of changes that needed to be made to make yummy banana bread, however, I followed This recipe by Annie from MyLifeAfterDairy.com.  After making this recipe, Brad took his first bite and asked, “Remind me what is different in this recipe from the normal cinnamon swirl banana bread you have always made!”  Then we both decided that we actually like this recipe even more!  Check out the recipe in this link  ➡️➡️ Amazing cinnamon swirl banana bread by Mylifeafterdairy.com.

The couple of changes that I did have to make were:

  • substitute maple syrup for vanilla
  • substitute vegan “butter” for coconut oil

You do not have to make these changes if your are just allergic to dairy.  As stated earlier, I am also allergic to vanilla and coconut.

Adding In The Right Supplements ~

You have to be sure to make up for the nutrients that you will be missing when cutting dairy out of your world.  My practitioner helped me with this.  I am also learning what foods I need to add more of to my diet along with these daily supplements.  A prime example is changing from a breakfast of eggs and toast to eggs with avocado, tomatoes and spinach.  This is even Teddy Ruffsavelt approved ⬇️!

Conclusion ~

As stated earlier, whether you are allergic to dairy or not, these recipes are truly amazing!  Heck, I’ve shared some dairy free recipes with you before I even knew I needed to cut out dairy.  This chicken stir fry recipe for instance is delicious and dairy free…who knew?  Anyhoo, give these a try and let me know your thoughts!  Also, I would love to hear some of your favorite recipes if you are on this dairy-free ride with me.  There are definitely hard days without cheese….but surviving a dairy free life so far has been pretty good!

Happy cooking and happy health to you all~



DIY Valentine Branch Tree

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that I have always loved making DIY home decor for.  It’s fun to make crafts for all holidays, but for some reason it just seems fitting that, for this holiday, most of my home decor should be created from the heart.  Even better is when you can use the “base” of a past project to create a new idea…which is what I have done with the DIY Valentine Branch Tree.

In November, we worked on gratitude and created a fun “Gratitude Branch Tree.”  We painted some branches black and cut out leaves with different kind acts that the grandkids could perform during the month.  In the end, we had a beautiful fall tree.  Well, I just loved the natural look of the branches in the vase so I held on to them (of course I did….I’m a craft object hoarder!)  Below is a picture of the festive DIY tree.

DIY Valentine’s Day Branch Tree ~

The great thing about this Valentine’s home decor craft is that you are using bits of nature along with items you most likely have at home coupled with some ornaments from the Dollar Tree.  I am a part of The Sustainable Craft Challenge hosted by Julie @ Sum of their Stories  where we are challenged to create a sustainable/eco-friendly craft to share.  This is how the DIY Valentine’s Day Branch Tree came to life.

Above are the branches and vase that I had saved….knowing I would find another use for it! 😉 Use this link to see the simple steps of how I painted the branches for the DIY tree ➡️➡️Gratitude DIY Branch Tree Post!  I know you may be looking at this pic and thinking, “Mimi is one crazy woman….that tree is U…G…L…Y!  Give it time my friends…a little imagination goes a long way!

Gathering Items Needed ~

It is so satisfying to go through old items saved that you just KNEW will come to good use later…am I right???  I know I am not the only one that saves small scraps of material and/or paper after cutting from another project!  This fun tree full of different hearts is a project where those scraps will come in handy!

  • Branches (2 – 4 depending on size desired)
  • Vase
  • Vase Fillers (of your choice)
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Embroidery Needle
  • Scissors
  • Pinking Shears
  • Burlap (or material you desire…does not have to be burlap)
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Ribbon
  • Heart ornaments (I bought mine at Dollar Tree)
  • Chalk/Chalk pen (if using chalk heart ornaments)

Fabric Ornaments How To ~

I saved burlap material from my daughter’s wedding…how fun that I am now making a craft of love from that material?!?!  I used a heart stencil that I had to cut hearts out of the burlap.  You can draw your own or use any heart cutout you may have laying around to create your heart form.  The beauty of these are that you can make them any size you want.  I chose to keep mine on the smaller side.

Double the material and cut your hearts out using pinking shears.  I wanted the frayed edge to give it more of a rustic look.  Thread your needle with a double strand of emroidery floss.  Tie a knot in the end of your embroidery floss and start by coming up from the bottom.  This secures your knot at the back of the heart where it will not be visible.  Use the simple stitch to come up and down through the holes in the burlap until you have gone completely around the heart.  Tie off again at the back of the heart.

The original idea for these ornaments came from this adorable DIY Heart Pillow pin!  These are made by the Super Z Outlet and are just so easy and cute.  These would be super cute on the DIY Valentine Branch Tree as well.  I chose to change it up a bit and created the burlap hearts instead.  I actually think it would be fun to make both kinds of heart pillows and mix it up!

Message In a Bottle Ornaments ~

I absolutely love these!  When I was strolling the aisles of Dollar Tree, these little gems caught my eye.  An exact idea of what they were going to be used for wasn’t yet formulated in my mind,  but I KNEW something would come to mind!

I told you paper scraps come in handy too!  I cut small rectangular pieces of pink paper and rolled them up as a scroll or letter and stuffed them in the bottle.  Cork it off and voila…you have adorable Valentine message in a bottle ornaments.  To hang them I wrapped a piece of jute string completely around the top of the bottle (just under the cork) and tied a knot and then tied a knot in the very end of the jute to create a loop for hanging.

Other Ornaments for DIY Branch Tree ~

Below is a picture of the items I purchased at Dollar Tree.  All of the items purchased didn’t end up being used (but you KNOW I’m saving those babies for another fun craft so stay tuned!).  I used the lace ribbon to tie through the holes of the small wooden hearts to hang.  A chalk pen was then used to  write candy heart messages on the chalkboard heart ornaments and then hung with jute.

I also had small black ornaments (not shown in picture above) that had been purchased at Halloween and never used….they were great little fillers for my DIY Valentine Branch Tree.  I used the pink ribbon to create a loop on the back of the burlap hearts using hot glue.

Final Touches ~

Use a pretty ribbon of your choice to tie around the top of the vase to add some flair to the vase.  A 2″ wide burlap ribbon was used in this example.  The metal gift tags in the picture above can the be used to add to your bow on the vase.  Using the chalk pen, I wrote Happy Valentines Day and then nestled it in the burlap bow.

I had so much fun creating this little home decor project for Valentine’s Day.  The Sustainable Craft Challenge is so fun because it pushes you to go through pins you have saved and never made and use them to make a new craft come to life.  Be sure to check out the other members of the challenge and see what they have created…their website links are listed below as well as the name of this month’s craft they have made using the theme name of LOVE …

Julie – Sum of Their Stories – Upcycle A Plastic Container With Paint Pens

Vicky – Vicky Myers Creations  – How To Make A Cute Paper Heart Garland

T’onna – Sew Crafty Crochet – Valentine’s Day Gnome Scarf

Gail – Purple Hues and MeWire Hanger Soda Can Heart Wreath

Julie – Treasures Made From YarnHeart Garland

Terri – Our Good LifeWine Cork Phone Holder

Christine – Christine’s CraftsEasy Valentine’s cards using paper scraps.

Niki – Life as a LEO Wife – DIY Place Card Holders With Free Valentine’s Place Cards

Mel – Decor Craft DesignDIY Love Container For Valentine

Jo – A Rose Tinted WorldDIY Heart Garland from Upcycled Cards

Marianne – SongbirdDIY Lace Valentine’s Hearts

Allyson – Southern SunflowersHow to Decorate a Tin Can Planter

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!  I hope your day is filled with love and laughter!

Much Love ~




Change of Heart – A Book Review

Would you let your child be saved by a convicted killer?  Some immediately would say yes and some would hesitate due to the “evil” of that person and not wanting them associated with their child.  Jodi Picoult has consistently been one of my favorite authors.  Her books dare you to understand BOTH sides of very controversial issues and once again she has created a very thought provoking book.  Please be aware that my book review of A Change of Heart does include some spoilers.

June Nealon has faced a lot of heartache…more than the average person.  Through this book we meet numerous characters that all have a large impact on her life.  These people bring us face to face with prison life, child illness, organ donation, religion and capital punishment!  Whew!  That’s a book packed with a lot of controversial issues…don’t ya think?

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DIY Snowy Luminary

Christmas has come and gone and New Year’s Eve is upon us.  Have you taken your Christmas decor down yet or are you one of those (like me) who love a few extra days of festive glow.  There is just something special about the cozy feelings you get with the strings of lights and warm candles all around.  Well, winter is still here so let’s make a DIY snowy luminary to keep all the warm “feels” through the rest of the winter!

I belong to a Sustainable Craft Challenge Group that challenges us to use a pin we have saved and actually create the craft.  How many pins have you saved that you haven’t gotten back to????  We spend all of that time researching pins and then just let them sit there….so let’s get going!  We also have to use some items that are recyclable, unused, reduces waste, etc.  I don’t know about you but I have a collection of saved items to “use in a craft later.”  Let’s do this! Continue reading

New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags

Traditions are a big part of family events throughout the entire year.  New Year’s Eve is no exception.  Whether you are staying home and celebrating with your kiddos or if you are going out and have a sitter staying home with them, kids still like ringing in the new year like the rest of us.  These New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags are a perfect way for the littles to enjoy the celebration of a new year as well.

There are a nunber of fun options when creating the countdown bags.  I love creating just one bag per each child.  A clock with a movable hand will be affixed to the front and goodies will be hidden inside.  As each hour approaches, the child will move their clock hand to designate the appropriate hour.   The big reveal of course will be when the hand reaches 12!

Making the New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags ~

Supplies ~
  • Lunch sized bags (also known as party paper goody bags)
  • Glue stick
  • Paper fasteners/brads of choice
  • Clock and clock hand (free printout below)

We chose fun metallic party bags for this year’s celebration ~


Instructions ~

Print and cut out the clock face and clock hand provided in this post.  *Links for various clocks are at bottom of post!

Using the glue stick, affix the clock face to the front of the bag.  *Be sure to not paste it too close to the top as you will need space to fold the top of the bag down.

Make a small hole in the end of the clock face.  You can push the brad right through the paper, but if it looks as if it is going to rip, try punching a small hole first with a pointy object.   Put the paper fastener/brad through the hole and then through the middle of the clock.

Reach into the sack and bend the arms of the brad to help secure the clock hand.

Fill the bag with the goodies you have collected.

Fold top of bag over and secure with sticker or make a small hole and tie a pretty ribbon through to hold in place.

How the Bags Work ~

At the top of every hour, the children get to move the clock hand.  Explain to the children that when the hand FINALLY reaches the 12 they will get to open their New Year’s Eve countdown bag.  *If your children are younger and will not make it to midnight, choose another designated time for them to receive their goodies!

Playing games, having dance parties and of course eating lots of yummy food are all, of course, an integral part of the time spent between the moving of the clock hand toward midnight!  Heidi, from OneCreativeMommy.com has some great free printables for New Year’s Eve Bingo.  Click this link to go directly to One Creative Mommy and get the Bingo game boards to print!  Use fun candies for the Bingo markers…and of course, be sure to have extras on hand for those candies that the little ones “sneak” to eat while playing! 😉

Festive Ideas for the Bag Fillers ~

Fill these fun bags with everything from small toys, to little candies to, of course, NOISE MAKERS!!!!  Below are some of the items we have filled our bags with for this year.  *Notice we have chosen some toys to inspire a little quiet time play…sometimes you need just a little break to slow down for breaks ~


Also included are small snack size bags of cookies and teddy grahams.  Individually wrapped candies and Nutrigrain bites.  You might even want to consider adding a juice box or favorite drink pouch!

New Year’s Eve Food Ideas ~

Fun ideas for festive food are galore on Pinterest, in recipe books and probably even in your recipe box!  Munchies can range from simple to more difficult as far as preparations go.  Remember that when you are adding in all the fun of games and dance parties, whatever food you choose to serve will be loved.  Yes, I, Mimi, am saying that….shocking right?  The gal who loves everything theme oriented.

My point is….it’s been a very busy last couple of months.  With that being said, we are ready for a good mix of simple and festive!  We plan on mixing simple recipes with a few of our favorite more time consuming ones.  For example, popcorn is simple right?  Our family loves popcorn so that will be on the menu!  However, we definitely need one or two fun foods.  Below are a couple of links for you to check out that have great ideas…from sweet to savory.

Adventures in Familyhood has some great ideas for food ideas.  Check out these awesome food ideas from Adventuresinfamilyhood.com in this link!  As far as savory goes, I have to say one of my favorites are the Crescent Dippers by Pillsbury…rolled out in numbers so you can make dippers in the year you are celebrating.  Use this link for the instructions on making New Year’s Eve Crescent Dippers by Pillsbury!  Another website that has loads of fun finger foods is from Brightcolormom.com.  Click here to see all of the fun ideas Michelle from Brightcolormom.com has in store for your New Year’s Eve celebration!

Choose Your Clock Face ~

I created several clock faces for you.  If you choose the monster or penguin, you will have to be a bit more careful cutting out the clock hands.  In order for those clock faces to fit on the bags I had to make them and the clock hands a bit smaller.  However, they are super cute and worth a little extra work!  I have provided a small pic so you can see which green link you want to choose….or you can print them all!

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Blue

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Purple

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Monster

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Penguin

There you have it friends!  Have fun putting these adorable New Year’s Eve countdown bags together…Come back and let me know what fun ideas you fill yours with!

Happy New Year’s to you my friends ~



Classic Broccoli Salad

As you search through salad ideas, many “specialty” salads are more seasonal.  Then you get lucky and find that one “specialty” salad that just seems to be good for all seasons and all holidays.  THIS is that salad!  Have you tried classic broccoli salad?  If not, let me tell you that this is one of the MOST requested salads at our friends and family get togethers.

This salad can be made ahead….BONUS!  I remember going to end of season sports banquets and I always looked forward to this side.  Yes, I have loved it for a very long time!  It is a delicious mixture of only a few ingredients that is topped with a creamy dressing that completes it perfectly.  I just described to you an easy salad that is also yummy…it’s perfect!

With the holidays right around the corner, it is the perfect addition to your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day menu.  As mentioned earlier, it can be made ahead and these are the best recipes when there is so many other things going on as well that makes it hard to spend all day in the kitchen.

Ingredients ~

For Salad ~

2 large bunches broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup to 1 cup raisins (I go with the larger amount)

12-18 strips bacon, cooked crisp

1 small onion, diced

1 cup or more of sunflower seeds

For Dressing ~

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. vinegar

* I double the dressing recipe because we like it covered in dressing.

* You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar…both work fine!

Instructions ~

Break or cut broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.  You can chop stems and add them in as well.

Fry bacon until crisp.  Crumble when cooled.  *You can buy the premade bacon and toss in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes for a quick prep on the bacon.

Mix broccoli, raisins and finely-chopped onion and toss.

In separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together until well combined and sugar crystals have dissolved.  Pour over broccoli mixture and refrigerate.  It is best if it marinates at least 2 hours.

*** I add the bacon when serving.  This keeps the bacon from getting soft.  This is not a necessary step, it is just how we prefer it.

Occasions for Classic Broccoli Salad ~

As mentioned earlier, this is the perfect salad for Christmas.  The green color adds to the festive look on your table.  Also, since it can be made ahead, it makes meal prep that much easier for the busy Christmas season.

It’s a perfect salad for Valentine’s Day by switching up the raisins for dried cranberries.  I like to bring in the color of the holiday into foods that I serve for that extra fun touch.

Definitely a great dish for Easter…just because salads are always good with Easter ham and all the other yummy sides that go with your Easter meal.

For all of the summer holidays….again it is a big hit.  It is crowd approved and nice that you can make ahead, throw it in a cooler to keep it chilled and have it ready to serve!  Seriously, it is a PERFECT salad for any time of the year!  This Iced sald serving bowl is perfect for all of the occasions too!  The stainless steel serving bowl sits in a larger acrylic bowl that holds the ice and keeps your salad chilled for hours!


Do I Need to Blanch the Broccoli? ~

No!  Cut the broccoli pieces from fresh broccoli…no extra work needed here!  The broccoli will soften a bit on its own as it marinates in the dressing.  Of course, you can blanch it if you wish, but there is really no need.

Healthier Substitutions ~

You can substitute greek yogurt for mayonnaise to make the salad a bit healthier.  You can also use mayonnaise with olive oil in it to save a few calories without changing the creaminess of the dressing.

Using pre-cooked bacon has less fat and calories than pan-fried bacon.  As mentioned above, I use this a lot and it does not alter the tast.  DO NOT use the little bacon bits that you find in a jar….please!

As many salads go, this is one that is not necessarily high on the “healthy” list.  However, it is an easy way to get broccoli and raisins (or dried cranberries) in your diet for those more finicky!

Other Salad Recipes Using Same Dressing ~

This dressing is a common dressing for many of what I call the “old-time salad recipes.”  Another family favorite of ours is made by mixing bite-sized pieces of Longhorn Colby Cheese, bacon pieces, diced onion, broccoli florets, cauliflower pieces and diced green onion topped with this creamy dressing!  Give it a try too!

This Classic Pea Salad by Bellyfull.net is another delcious salad recipe that uses the same dressing.  As Amy from BellyFull states in her post linked here, it is another old fashioned recipe that receives great accolades every time she serves it!

Do you already make this salad and maybe have some variations?  I would love to hear about them!  If you haven’t made it, be sure to make it soon….your family will be thankful you did!

Year ‘Round Meals to Pair with Classic Broccoli Salad ~

Have you tried making the hamburger bowls yet?  If not, check out this fun way and unique way to serve hamburgers…Hamburger Bowls!

This salad would also complement these amazing Poor Man Smoked Burnt Ends!


Happy Cooking ~


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