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

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 10)

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.

Food & Snacks ~

Max requested chicken nuggets and french fries as his main dish.  I know, I know….not very ninja-like, right?  So….Chinese takeout boxes and chopsticks were ordered and the nuggets and fries were cleverly “camouflaged” as part of the ninja food!  Seriously, how clever is that???

The sauces were laid out to look like various Chinese dipping sauces…however, they were BBQ, honey mustard, and buffalo for the chicken nuggets!  Basically, you can take any of your child’s favorite foods and still match the theme of the party!

*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.  This is at no cost to you, the reader.  Thank you for supporting my small business!

Big sister, Addi, created cupcakes with licorice rope belts…

Cheese cubes with ninja swords were easily converted into a fun snack…

Wontons were fried into chips for dipping into a yummy crab dip…

Scrumptious Meatballs and buffalo chicken dip were served up as well!  Suffice it to say, there was plenty of food to go around for both the kids and the adults!

The Party Room ~

Have you been wondering where the neon comes in????   Well, here we gooo…..

They happen to have a room under construction, which was perfect for converting to a party room.  Now, I realize that this won’t always be the case for anyone wanting to host a ninja themed birthday party, but these ideas can be worked into many different rooms.  You must first buy blacklights and MANY rolls of neon tape.  (I apologize in advance that the quality of this picture is not great, but you will get a general idea of the basic layout)

The tape was used to write out Max’s name and birth year of celebration!  Max LOVED seeing his name in such big letters!    Tape was also made into various little decorations on the floor and walls for extra glow effect.  Lights were strung around the walls and placed on the floor.  Glowsticks were hung from the Christmas tree!  Look closely, and you will see a ninja punching/kicking bag in the back left corner.

Kids were told to wear white so they would glow!  White shirts were provided in case they forgot, but more about that later!  The birthday boy had a special karate outfit with his name and birthday number adhered to the back in white.

Once it all came together, it was the perfect party place and backdrop for picture taking!

Craft & “Goody Bag” Table ~

A table was laid out with headbands made in advance with each child’s name.  Children love anything personalized with their own name so this was an immediate success.  In fact, the adults were a tad jealous that they didn’t get one too!  A white t-shirt was placed with their headband for their own artwork to be done when it was time for the craft.  Glowsticks and foam ninja throwing stars were scattered around the table.

Neon fabric markers were placed on the table for the kids to create their own fun t-shirt that would glow in the dark.  Using markers instead of paint makes it perfect for quick drying so the kids can wear their artwork right away.  The headbands and t-shirts also doubled as their goody bag items to take home with them.  So much fun to have a gift that lasts longer than just the night of the party!

Entertainment ~

Max’s karate instructor was invited to the party.  She brought along the boards for kids to attempt to cut in half by doing the “karate chop” or kick of their choice.  She left plenty of boards for others to try at their whim.

Max loved being the first one to demonstrate his talents!  The smile that came from his face after he broke his first board was absolutely priceless!  This was a HUGE hit with the kids AND the adults that lasted throughout the night.  Even the great grandparents got in on the action.  It brought a lot of laughs and fun to the party!

It’s not easy to plan a party that is completely enjoyed by all ages, but Lauren arose to the challenge…and succeeded!  Let me just say that her parties tend to go over the 1 1/2 – 2 hour mark….they are just that much fun!

This is a fun party theme whether your child takes karate classes or not.  There are so many popular movies and kid shows on tv that fascinate kids and make them want to be a ninja.  Boys and girls alike are sure to enjoy this neon ninja themed birthday party!

For other funtastic birthday themes check out Max’s Photoriffic Birthday Party where the whole party was centered around pictures of Max…a true MAX birthday or Addi’s Purr-fect Cat Birthday Party filled with all kinds of kitty fun!

Happy party planning to you ~








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!



Spooktacular Halloween Snacks for Kids

October is a month of Spooktacular Halloween Snacks for Kids.  It’s time to take those after-school or bedtime snacks up a notch.  This doesn’t mean that a ton of time needs to go into the preparation (well not all of them anway 😉).  What it DOES mean is that you will be creating fun memories for your children!

Believe me when I say, your kids will crown you “Parent of the Spooky Season” when you take a few extra minutes to create these goodies.  You also will be able to sneak in some healthy items that they may not even realize because they just look so fun.  What are you waiting for…….let’s dive in!

This post and its photos may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Apple Vampire Bites ~

It really doesn’t get any easier than this fun snack!  Slice apples, layer one side of each slice with peanut butter, add some mini marshmallows for teeth!  This scary snack is healthy and delicious.  Lay each “mouth” on a plate and add some spooky eyeballs to complete the look!

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • apples (sliced)
  • peanut butter
  • mini marshmallows
  • plastic eyeballs

Below is a link to purchase the eyeballs.  You may also have luck finding them in some of your local stores!

Hocus Pocus Spellbook Brownies ~

You will notice several steps in this spooktacular Halloween snack, but don’t run away just yet….this is a simple recipe too since you are using boxed brownie mix.  The detail in the instructions is just on the decorating, which goes quickly once you get the hang of what you are doing!

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • 1 box brownie mix
  • black tube of icing
  • white tube of icing
  • large candy eyes (optional)

If you choose to use candy eyes instead of the icing (either one works perfectly), you can usually find candy eyes in your local store.  I have also included a link to purchase them below.  *You will want the jumbo size ones for the best look….pay attention to sizes as there are many different sizes of candy eyes.

I’m including this link as well because it is handy to have several sizes on hand when preparing different spooktacular Halloween snacks for kids all month long.

Directions ~

  1. Bake brownies per box instructions.
  2. Let cool and then cut into rectangular (book looking) pieces.
  3. Pipe white icing in a large circle for the eye.  (Optional – you can use a large candy eye in place of this step).
  4. Pipe black icing in middle of eye (unless using large candy eyes).
  5. Pipe a ziz zag line down one long side of brownie.  Next, pipe a straight line next to that and then add stitches down the length of the straight line.
  6. Pipe half circle on opposite two corners of the brownies.

Let’s not forget to add those special candy Halloween extras on our serving plate once we are done making the Hocus Pocus Brownies.  It just makes the presentation that much more fun!

Homemade Chocolate Halloween Candies ~

Another super simple recipe that is so fun to make.  You can be as simple or as creative as you wish.  Bonus….the kids can join in on the fun making these!  (Look in the Hocus Pocus Brownie picture above and you will see the various colored candies on the serving platter!)

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • silicone Halloween chocolate molds
  • colored melting chocolates

You can look in your local stores for the chocolate molds or purchase them from the links below.

Directions ~

  1. Place candy melts in a heat proof bowl.  *You can add a tsp. of shortening per each package used to thin the chocolate out a bit.
  2. Put bowl of melts in the microwave and MICROWAVE FOR 30 SECONDS!  (this is in all caps for a reason….follow these directions to ensure your chocolate doesn’t burn!)
  3. Take bowl out and stir thoroughly.
  4. Place back in microwave for another 30 seconds.  (even if it doesn’t look like they are melting, DO NOT go over 30 seconds at a time!  I promise, they are melting!)
  5. Continue doing this until chocolate is melted.

*If you need to thin chocolate out at any point during using, add one teaspoon of shortening.

The link below shows green candy melts (which is indeed a fun Halloween color), however, when you click on the link there are more color options.

If you prefer to use white chocolate melts, or even white almond bark and color it to your own liking, be sure to use oil based food coloring or your chocolate will get VERY thick….believe me….I know this to be a fact because I have ruined my chocolates before!

Halloween Frankenstein Kiwis ~

How cute are these little frankensteins?  A healthy snack that is oh so fun to serve up!

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • Kiwis
  • candy eyeballs
  • pretzel sticks
  • black tube icing

Directions ~

  1. Wash kiwi and pat dry.  Cut it in half and place flesh side down.
  2. Cut a little bit off of the ends and throw away.  Using a small vegetable peeler,  gently peel the skin upwards, leaving some on the top for his “hair.”
  3. Pat again with paper towel to remove excess moisture.  This ensures the icing will stick.
  4. Put small dots of icing for the “glue” for each eye.  Then place candy eyes on the icing dots and press lightly.
  5. Draw a mouth and “stitching” on side of face with tube of icing.
  6. Gently snap a pretzel stick in half and push into sides for his arms.

Banana Ghosts ~

*See picture above

Ingredients Needed ~

  • bananas
  • tube of black icing

Directions ~

  1. Peel bananas and then cut in half.
  2. Using tube of icing, draw your ghost face of eyes and mouth!

Mummy Juice Boxes ~

How cute are these?????  Another easy spooky treat that the kids will LOVE!

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • Juice boxes
  • Googly eyes
  • Gauze
  • Scotch tape

Directions ~

Wrap gauze around each box.  Gently tuck loose end in the gauze wrapping to secure.

Roll small piece of tape and place on back of googly eyes.  Then place eyes on gauze juice box.  *You can also get googly eyes with adhesive backs to use instead of tape.

Graveyard Pudding Cups ~

Kids love pudding and this ghostly treat will be sure to bring a smile to their faces!

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • chocolate pudding cups
  • ghost marshmallow Peeps
  • graham crackers OR Oreos
  • candy pumpkins

Directions ~

  1. Chop graham crackers or cookies in blender or food processor until finely chopped (it should resemble dirt).
  2. Peel top of pudding cups off.
  3. Layer crumbs on top of chocolate pudding.
  4. Top with a marshmallow ghost Peep and a candy pumpkin.

While not necessary, it so much fun to add the casket backdrop to many of your snack presentations, giving a fun name to each snack!

Baked Halloween Quesadillas ~

Items/Ingredients Needed ~

  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • spray cooking oil
  • Halloween shaped cookie cutters

Directions ~

  1. Place 2 tortillas together face down on cutting board.  Press cookie cutter into tortillas, making sure to cut through both.
  2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Place bottom tortilla on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Top with handful of shredded cheese.
  5. Place top tortilla over top of cheese.
  6. Lightly spray top of tortilla with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 350° for about 7 minutes or until cheese has melted.

*It helps to have the comfort grip cookie cutters for this snack to make cutting through both tortillas a bit easier!

Another fun Halloween serving idea is the coffin shaped cutting board.  This will come in handy for so many reasons throughout the month of October.

Mummy Dogs ~

This can be a fun little snack or part of your dinner menu.  You can mix it up and use regular size hot dogs or cocktail weenies.

Ingredients Needed ~

  • hot dogs or cocktail weenies
  • crescent rolls
  • mustard, ketchup OR candy eyes

Directions ~

  1. Unroll dough and separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles.
  2. Press perforations to seal.
  3. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut 10 strips lengthwise down the dough.
  4. Wrap strips of dough around the mummy, layering them randomly to resemble mummy wraps.  Use 3 to 4 strips of dough for each mummy.
  5. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.
  6. Dot mustard or ketchup on the mummy for eyes OR push candy eyes into the dough.

Wrapping It Up! ~

There you have it my Halloween friends…a list of Spooktacular Halloween Snacks for Kids that will be a hit this season for sure!  I hope that you will create some (or all) of these yummy recipes…and have fun….maybe add your own little touches!  Send pics back in the comments when you do….I would love to see what you have created!

Once you have made all of your snack list ideas, be sure to engage the family in outdoor Halloween fun too!  Try this neighborhood fun…You’ve Been Booed!!! 👻.  Maybe have some Skelly Skeleton fun as explained here….Halloween fun by mail with Skelly Skeleton.

Last, but definitely not least, I would like to thank my dear daughter, Lauren.  I (and I have to say I on this one and not we) raised our kids to love Halloween and all of the fun that goes into the month of October.  She has taken that up a notch and created each of these snacks already this month (and we are not even half way through the month!!!)  She is a dedicated mom that truly enjoys holiday fun with her kiddos!  Our grandkids are indeed lucky!

Happy Halloween my friends ~



Mimi’s Favorite Finds

This page will be dedicated to all unique finds that I want to share with you.  It will be an ever-changing page as I will also put current great deals on here also!

If you are not a Prime member, you can use the handy link above ⤴️to get yourself set up.

Favorite Gift Ideas from Amazon

*Mimiblog.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising revenues by advertising and linking to Amazon.
Below are items that I love or have read amazing things from my fellow bloggers.  You will see that I tend to gravitate to educational toys.   Happy Shopping!

Fun gift ideas for your Christmas shopping!

Brick Loot Products

Flat Skelly Skeleton is BACK!

It’s a few days before October and we are getting VERY excited for all the Halloween FUN!  Last year I introduced Flat Skelly Skeleton in an effort to bring Halloween fun to everyone’s mailboxes.  No, not an email mailbox….the snail mail mailbox.  You know, the big thing outside that usually only produces bills and advertisements?!?!  Let’s spuce the inside of that box up with some Halloween fun because Flat Skelly Skeleton is BACK!

What is so wonderful about this project is if a grandparent or other family member lives far away from the littles in their family, they can still be a part of the Halloween fun!  You send the Flat Skelly…they send you pictures all month long!  A link is included above for the original post so you can read more about it, however, I am also including a direct link below as well to get the necessary printouts for this festive project.  I guarantee you that it will bring smiles to the children and you ALL…MONTH….LONG!

Flat Skelly Poem ~

*→Make the introduction to Flat Skelly with this easy to use printout!  You can print it out on your paper type and color of choice.

(pic included for reference…use the green link above for printable version)

*→You will also need this skeleton cutout for Flat Skelly!

(pic included for reference…use the green link above for printable version)

As stated earlier, there is a link above that describes Flat Skelly in detail, but here are the basics.

How Flat Skelly Works ~

  • Print a copy of the poem.  This can be printed on any type and color of paper.  If you are mailing, I suggest you print on regular copy weight of paper for less cost in mailing.
  • Print the skeleton cutout page…you will want to be sure to include a printout of this for each family member receiving the package.  I suggest you print this on card stock to make the skeleton more durable to last through the month.
  • Include 8 brads for each skeleton printed.  (Unless the family you are sending to is a crafty family and already has some of these in stock.    (brad’s are two pronged paper fasteners).  Here is a handy link if you need to order some brads ➡️➡️Brads for crafting.
  • Mail the complete package out to your loved ones!  They will do the cutting and assembling once they receive their fun snail mail.

Now it is up to the grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc.  As they complete different Halloween crafts, make creepy foods or go to festive activities, they need to take Flat Skelly with them and photograph the memories and send the pics to you!  Voila!  You are not there, BUT it’s the next best thing!!!!


Please do NOT stop with this one mailing!  You have so many opportunities to send more Halloween fun to those cute little Halloween creatures!  Throughout the month of October, send other small skeleton themed cards, projects, games, treats, etc to keep everyone thinking about Flat Skelly!

Here are some fun ideas for you:

The Skeleton Game ~

The object of this game is to be the first person to assemble the skeleton.

You will need the following:

  • 1 Dice
  • Printout of game rules for reference
  • Printout of skeleton for each person playing

Print out directions for The Skeleton Game Here! ⇐ Use this handy link to print out the game rules.

Print out the quirky skelton here! or if you prefer you can print out more copies of Flat Skelly (link above)  Cut out the pieces (head, 2 complete arms, 2 complete legs and body).

This is an easy game to print out the pieces and send along in the mail.  It usually is safe to assume that the recipients will have a dice to use.

Skeleton Treasure Hunt ~

This game is incredibly easy.  You will need to purchase flat skeleton pieces to send in the mail.  I honestly had a pretty hard time finding flat skeleton faces that would be easy to mail.  I have included a link to one set that I found that would work perfectly, though they are small… Skeleton faces – flat.  You could also find some in party favor sections of different stores.

Print out this simple Skeleton Treasure Hunt instruction page to mail out!  It doesn’t get any easier than that!!!

 (Picture shown for reference!)

Halloween Sticker Face Fun ~

Mail these fun Make A Face sticker sheets to your little ghouls for some craft time.   I know, these do not have a skeleton theme…but it still is a great Halloween project that will be easy to mail out!  This fun set includes 36 pieces of fun ghoulish face making!

These spooky ideas should get you started!  The kids will be so excited that Flat Skelly Skeleton is back!  Remember, this is a fun project for those who live far away OR for those who live in the same town.  Kids LOVE to receive mail….so get moving now to bring some fun to their mailbox!

Happy Haunting!

Mimi (otherwise know as Skelly Shelly during the month of October!)




The ABCs of Gratitude

Here we are…almost to the beginning of yet another new year.  Have you make any resolutions?  Are you still going strong with the current year’s resolutions?  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…



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 ~











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!  If you haven’t worked with caramelized onions much, you will be amazed at the aroma that consumes your house when making this fantastic recipe.

Steps for French Onion Smothered Chicken ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

Wash your chicken breasts and pat to dry.  Brown chicken breasts in olive oil (or oil of your choice).  If your chicken breasts are large, cut through them lengthwise to make thinner cutlets.  Season both sides of chicken 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 you or your guests prefer.  I have found that many people like a bit of crunchy around the edges.

While Chicken is Browning ~

One of the best smells when cooking is that of caramelized onions.  Yum!  If I close my eyes, I can bring that smell to my mind any time…they are just that amazing!  I mentioned this earlier, but seriously….it is the best!

You will need to slice 4 medium onions.  This can be done to the thickness you prefer.  Melt butter in a separate skillet from the chicken.    Place sliced onions in butter and cook until browned and soft, stirring occasionally.  This will take 10-15 minutes.  They will have a rich dark brown color when finished.

Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.  Place browned chicken in bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle one packet of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix all over browned chicken.  **I always keep a couple of Lipton Onion Soup and Dip Mixes on hand….it literally comes in handy for so many recipes.

Once Onions are Caramelized ~

Once the sliced 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.

Remove the caramelized onion mixture from heat and gently pour 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.  In my opinion, there is never enough gravy!

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.  Honestly, so many different cheeses could be substituted here, but we do love melted mozzarella!

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 and only uses several ingredients.  Another easy, yet flavorful side dish option is garlic parmesan roasted broccoli  by Easy Family Recipes.  This is a another wonderful dish with only a few ingredients.  An extra bonus with this recipe is that it is low carb and gluten free!  A third side dish idea is creamy garlic parmesan orzo by The Carefree Kitchen.  I have become a HUGE fan of orzo…have you cooked with it?  These are just a few delicious side ideas, however, the beauty of this meal is that so many sides would pair nicely with it!

This savory dish is most definitely going to become a family favorite.  Even if someone doesn’t like onions, this will many times still appeal to them.  A caramelized onion is such a different flavor from a raw or slightly cooked onion.  Enoy!


Happy cooking~


Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillet

If you are anything like me, you are always searching for new and exciting recipes.  Sometimes, those recipes can be similar to ones you have already made, but you need only to change up the method in which you serve them!  Through the years I have heard people say, “Why do you worry about so many small details?”  My response is always…”Presentation is Key!”

This very topic is what helped me to discover personal-sized cast iron skillets.  I love cooking with the small skillets both for presentation and to have the ability to cater to each individual’s personal preferences in foods.  These Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillets are a big hit on Sunday mornings in our family.

Which Skillets to Use ~

There are so many wonderful skillets out there, however, we tend to lean toward the Lodge brand.  The benefits of this brand are as follows:

  • Retain heat well
  • Preseasoned
  • Can be used on stovetop, in oven, on grill or over an open fire
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Long-standing history of quality products
  • Can be used for everything from frying to sauteing, to broiling and everything in between
  • Have a large variety of sizes and different series
  • Easy to find locally and on-line

Size to Use for Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillet ~

We use the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 6-1/2 Inch Skillet for the breakfast skillet as well as many other individualized recipes.  It is a good idea to have 6 to 8 if you are planning on serving several people.  I use them many times for just Brad and I as well, so if you are empty nesters, it is fun to get 2 and have fun creating!  *Pay close attention to the size because many brands have an even smaller size that is not big enough for this savory dish!

What is even better about these is that you can create savory or sweet recipes in them.  Who doesn’t like digging into a steaming hot personal pan brownie or cookie topped with ice cream?  Yum!  These have quickly become known as pizookies!

Recipe ~

Ingredients for 6 Personal Skillets:
  • 14 Red potatoes, cubed small
  • 10 Sausage patties, crumbled
  • 6 Ham slices, cut into small squares
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 2 Bell peppers, color(s) of choice, cubed
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, diced
  • 12 – 14 Eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

*Please note, you can customize these ingredients to your liking.  Other topping ideas:

  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Mozzarella, Swiss, Gruyere, Fontina, Gouda or your favorite cheese of choice
  • Tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Black Olives
  • Jalapenos
  • Hash Browns
Directions for 6 Hearty Personal Breakfast Skillets ~
  1. Brown sausage.  I used patties because that is what I had on hand.  (You can, of course, use any type as you will be crumbling it after cooked.)
  2. While sausage is cooking, continue chopping the rest of the veggies and ham.
  3. Cook chopped potatoes, onions, and peppers until browned in a separate small skillet.                   
  4. Layer sausage and ham in prepared 6 1/2″ skillets.                                                                                         
  5. Follow with cooked potatoes and veggies.                                                                                               
  6. Season liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning and then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Beat eggs with milk until completely combined.
  8. Pour egg mixture over meat and veggies in each skillet.                                                               
  9. Top with desired amount of cheese.  (We love cheese so I completely cover the skillet.) 
  10. I placed each skillet on foil lined baking sheets to protect oven from spillage.
  11. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until browned.

*You can exclude necessary ingredients to create a Keto version.

Want To Top It With Gravy? ~

Let’s take it a step further and add gravy.  You can go the traditional route and make gravy from scratch or you can make it from a mix.  I use Pioneer Country Sausage Gravy Packets when not making gravy from scratch.  Season it up with salt and pepper and it becomes the perfect final topping for this delicious recipe!

Make Ahead ~

Holiday season is upon us.  Chop up all of your ingredients ahead of time for prep and put together early Christmas morning.  Put your coffee on and assemble these before the Christmas present frenzy begins.  While you are all opening presents, this delicious breakfast can be cooking and filling the room with scents of a cozy Christmas morning!

If you are in a pinch for time, put it all in one large skillet to scoop out individual servings when ready!

Serving Choices ~

As you can imagine, the skillets are extremely hot when taking out of oven. I love to serve these yummy dishes with quilted handle covers for functionality and to keep the presentation fun!  Basic Black Set of 3 Skillet Handle Covers are a good place to start for your collection!

Of course, these fun bandana ones are adorable for many occasions as well!  Are these not the cutest???

Bandana Hot Handle Holders by Lodge

Crafty Hands Primitive has a large assortment of colors to choose from to match any season/holiday/theme you wish.  Be sure to look at the beautiful patterns by CraftyHandsPrimitive on Etsy by clicking here!

Primitive Skillet Handle Pot Holder choose fabric image 2

Care of Iron Skillets ~

I had never cooked with an iron skillet until I got married.  Brad quickly taught me the beauty of using them, but even then I shied away from them because I was unsure how to care for them.   I soon realized that they truly are very easy to clean.  This is all you need to clean your cast iron skillet:

Stainless Steel Scrubber Set

What’s even better is that this fun idea has come to you just in time for Christmas.  Whether adding them to your Christmas wish list or surprising someone special, a set of single-serving sized iron skillets will be sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face!  Soon I will bringing you a cookbook featuring a variety of iron skillet recipes just like this delicious hearty breakfast skillet!

Happy Cooking ~







Halloween Snail Mail for Kids

Even in this age of technology everyone loves receiving snail mail….well, as long as it isn’t bills!  Seriously though, when you open that mail box and find a pretty colored envelope addressed to you, doesn’t it just bring an instant smile to your face?  I’ve been working harder at getting back to this long lost sentiment, and right now I have been focusing on Halloween Snail Mail for Kids.

In one of my posts last week, Flat Skelly Skeleton, I introduced a fun Halloween project for kids that can be mailed out.  This post builds upon that and gives you some ideas for follow-up “Skelly Snail Mail” you can send after you mail out Flat Skelly.  However, even if you have not mailed Flat Skelly, you can still use these fun ideas to surprise the kiddos.

Hand-Made Envelope With Craft Inserted ~

I used a standard sized (8.5″ X 11″) piece of colored card stock to create this envelope.  The package can be decorated any way you wish if you are hand delivering.  My grandchildren live close so that is the method I chose.  You can still make this if you will be sending it in the mail, just do most of your hand decorating on the opposite side so you have ample space to address it.

Directions ~
  • Place card stock in horizontal position
  • Fold bottom up 3/4 of the way
  • Crease the folds nicely by running a pen along the edges
  • Fold sides in about 1/4″ on both right and left sides
  • Crease folds
  • Fold top portion down
  • Tape left and right sides down to secure (making sure to leave top open to put mail in)
  • Decorate

The skeleton theme is being used on all of our mail this week since we have dubbed it “Skelly Mail.”  You obviously can use any Halloween images you wish, but following a theme does make it fun!  For the first package, I inserted a fun stained glass craft.  As always, choose whatever fun item you want to put in the package, but I am including a link below so you can see what I included:

Halloween Makit & Bakit Craft

These were a fun little activity that the kids really enjoyed and are so very cute to let them hang in their bedroom window, kitchen window or wherever you would like to display their artwork!  (Halloween is almost here now, but still check out this fun link to look at their other holiday choices for Thanksgiving and Christmas….get them ordered before they run out!)

Skeleton Hand with Treat ~

Here we printed out a skeleton hand image on a standard (8.5″ X 11″) sheet of white card stock.  We then carefully cut around the hand to cut out most of the white space.

Use this free link to print out your own copy of the Skelly Skeleton Hand ~  Skeleton Hand Full Size Image to Print and Cut.

I cut the space between the index finger and thumb apart so that I could insert the Halloween treat.  This makes it look as if the hand is actually holding the treat.

These fun ring suckers were found at our local grocery store.  However, if you cannot find them and act quickly enough, you can still get them delivered on time by using this link ~ Skeleton “Sugar Skulls” Lollipop Rings.  I plan to use the extra for our trick or treaters!

Pumpkin Tags ~

To add extra flair, attach a fun tag in a way that it is dangling from the skeleton’s hand.  You can create your own or I have made some for you to print out for free.  Bonus…these are cute but basic enough that you can use them for quite a few different things!  Print them out on cardstock…you will get 4 per page!

Use this link… Free Pumpkin Tags.  Once you have printed them, use a marker to write the recipient’s name.  I then wrote “5 Days ’til Halloween.”  This will add extra excitement for them to know they can officially start counting down the days until it is time to go trick or treating!

What’s Next You Ask? ~

As you can probably assume, I plan on adding a new fun delivery each day.  Be sure to tune in each day to see what I have added to this post!  I will be sure to give detailed directions for each creation!  I’m not really sure who is having more fun this week…me creating the daily mailings or the kids receiving them!  This Halloween Snail Mail for Kids is a lot of fun!

I hope your week before Halloween is filled with lots of spooky fun! 🎃

Love ~



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