Archive | January, 2012

The Love Jar & Love Jobs

30 Jan

This is one of my favorite REPEATING projects… We do this every February for the first 14 days…  It’s easy, fun and helps to teach children about how to love others unconditionally.  For those of you veteran Mommyapolis-ERS you’ve seen the LOVE JAR before, but every year we change our jobs!  The way it works is that we think of 14 LOVE JOBS that we would like to do… They range from homemade gifts for family and friends to treats for neighbors and donations for strangers…  I type them up, cut them out, and place them in the jar.  Each morning we pick out one “job” and try to complete it by the end of the day.  Some times I have to be strategic in the job picking just to make sure we can complete the task by the end of the day :)…  Here is the Scoop for 2012!


*  Call someone you care about and tell them why they are special!

*  Fill a grocery bag with food items from our pantry and deliver it to a food shelf!

*  Make a prayer jar with popsicle sticks and pick a name each night to pray for.

*  Draw a picture for a friend or family member and mail it to them!

*  Find one toy of your own that you would like to give to a child who may not have many of their own.

*  Choose one book from your collection that you would like to give away to a child who may not have many of their own.

*  Bring a treat to your teacher and tell her you appreciate her.

*  Make cookies or cupcakes for a neighbor!

*  Help make, purchase or send a meal to a family that might need it this week!

*  Deliver Homemade Bird Feeders to friends and neighbors

*  Take some money from your piggy bank and give to the children’s offering at church.

*  Plan a menu and make invitations to invite some friends over for a special meal.

*  Make homemade Valentines for children OR the elderly locally

*  Make a blessings book as a family!

Best Play Dough Recipe… EVER… EVER…

21 Jan

My son, Shaeffer, took a two year old class well when he was 2!  His teacher was Miss Nadi and she was amazing in every way possible.  She was happy and sweet and creative and she sang adorable songs with the kids.  She even recorded herself singing the songs so the kids could listen at home.  This still is one of his favorite CD’s and he’s now 5!  Well every year she would ask a few parents to make a batch of play dough for her classroom.  This play dough would last her all year!  It’s soft and creamy and wonderful!

Well yesterday Sutton’s Kindergarten teacher asked me to make a class batch of play dough for a center next week.  She said I could use any recipe I wanted and I immediately thought of MISS NADI.  I can honestly say that I often make Kool-Aid play dough, which is also awesome, but it doesn’t last nearly as long!  I made a batch of Nadi’s Dough this morning and it brought back all those fond memories of our two year old class.  The smell, the texture, the color all PERFECT…  It makes a big batch so if you don’t need it all give some to a neighbor or friend!  You could make valentine play dough and put it in little bags for your friends…  What ever you decide, it’s great dough and it will go a long way…

Here’s the Scoop:

Stir together in a big bowl, 4 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, and one container of cream of tarter (I used 2.5 ounces).  In a large pot combine 9 tablespoons vegetable oil, 4.75 cups hot tap water and food coloring.  Add the dry ingredients to this pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  It looks like a mess, but it will thicken and get lumpy and eventually form into a ball.  Turn the dough ball out of pan on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and combine.  Put the dough in a bag while it is still warm and check later for consistency.

***  When you first put the dough in the pan, try to break up the lumps with the spoon.  Later, when it is getting close to being done, lumps will form and all the goo will come together and form into a ball.  When the play dough is done it should be very soft and easily squish through your fingers.  If it’s too dry just add extra hot water (which I did not have to do).

Zesty Crock Pot Chicken

17 Jan

So what I have learned about “crock-potting” is that certain meats cook fast while others are more pokey.  Chicken breasts that are boneless cook very quickly and if you leave them in the pot too long they will dry out and taste yuck-o.  BUT if you toss them in frozen, then they can spend the day in the slow cooker!  So this recipe will call for the frozen variety of chicken, but if you’d like to use fresh, just cut the time!

We’ve made this recipe before.  It’s great shredded on a bun or whole next to a baked potato!  You decide!  Here’s the scoop:

Zesty Crock Pot Chicken

4-6 Frozen Chicken Breasts

1/2 cup italian dressing (I use the kind in a little packet that you mix up, but a bottle would work too)

One 12 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce…  I LOVE Famous Dave’s Sweet and Zesty

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 T Worcestershire sauce

Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.  Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.

Bird Feeders for Valentine’s Day!

13 Jan

This project is quick, easy and environmentally groovy…  It’s also pretty inexpensive, which is always a plus!  It is a heart shaped bird feeder!  The boys had a lot of fun making these and they took us a total of 20 minutes to toss together…  and they are PEANUT FREE!

Here’s the scoop:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2.5 teaspoons)
  • 3 tbsp corn syrup
  • 4 cups birdseed

You will also need:

  • large mixing bowl
  • heart shaped cookie cutter
  • nonstick spray
  • straw for making a hole in the ornament
  • parchment or wax paper or tin foil
  • cookie sheet
  • ribbon

Mix flour, water, gelatin and corn syrup. Add birdseed and stir until combine!

Spray the inside of a heart cookie cutter with cooking spray. You could use any shape you want really, but for Valentine’s Day a heart is perfect!

Place cookie cutter on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Spoon mixture inside of cookie cutter, pressing mixture firmly.  The birdseed stuck to my fingers a bit, but if you grease them that wouldn’t happen.   The more you press it down, the less shedding of seeds you will have.  We filled our cookie cutters to the brim!  Once they are full, take your straw and poke a hole in the top for the ribbon.  Make sure the straw goes all the way through to the pan.  Carefully lift the cookie cutter up.  It slides right off… Place it next to your heart and make another one!

This recipe made 13 hearts for us, perfect for gifts!  You will want to let them dry 6-8 hours.  We made ours in the afternoon and before bed I flipped them on their side to make sure the back side dried, as well.   We then just let them sit until the morning.  They were very solid by that time and it was simple to thread the ribbon through them at that time.

I think these would be adorable with little “Happy Valentine’s Day” tags… Maybe something like “glad you’re my love bird” or something cheesy like that🙂.  Have fun with it!  We are planning to pass them out to our neighbors too, you can make tons in a short period of time, so spread the LOVE!


Tip Junkie handmade projects

Crock Pot Thursday: Chicken Teriyaki

5 Jan

Slow Cooker Meal: Teriyaki Chicken  -- Courtesy Rachel Ray

Hey Friends…  Today the boys and I are whipping out our crock pot after a long hiatus… The thing is, I am only a slight fan of the creamy goodness that often accompanies a slow cooker.  I know I’m in the minority in saying that… It’s not that I can’t eat those meals, it’s just that I don’t LOVE them…  I decided to find some NEW crock pot recipes to try out this winter.  I’ll post them as we go along and we can decide together what we think…

So this is what I did… I googled “best slow cooker recipes”, I mean why wouldn’t I.  This recipe popped up from the ever popular Rachel Ray.  It was her #1 recipe of 2011 so I figured I’d give it a go.  As with everything else, I had to switch it up a bit.  We are not huge into chicken thighs so I went with boneless chicken breasts. I also left out the cilantro because the boys don’t like it very much.  I don’t know if it will taste as great or if I totally just messed up the recipe.  We’ll find out at 5:30!  I also just tossed the items into the crock pot, I didn’t really measure.  Again, we’ll find out if that was a good idea or not come dinner time!  OK, Here’s the Scoop:


  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 12 oz bottle Teriyaki sauce ( I used organic because it was the only one without high fructose corn syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger (I grated mine in my food processor)
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts sliced on a bias, but kept separate
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro (I left this out)


In a large bowl, dust the chicken with cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil and brown the chicken breasts.

In a slow cooker, add browned chicken with teriyaki, ginger, garlic, honey and white parts of the scallions. Put the lid on and cook on low for 5-8 hours or high for 3.  If you use dark meat it will probably take a little longer than if you use the white meat.  Rachel’s recipe says 3-5 hours, We just went for the longer time because we have all day!  This might dry out our chicken, I’ll let you know!

When the chicken is about 20 minutes away from being done, add rice, water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to a medium pot with a lid. Bring the pot of rice up to a boil then drop it down to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer 10-15 minutes. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork and fold in the green parts of the scallions and sesame seeds.

Just before serving, combine bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl.

To serve, scoop a portion of scallion-sesame rice into the bottom of a shallow bowl and top with 2 chicken breasts drizzled with a bit of the teriyaki sauce. Garnish with the fresh and crunchy pepper, cucumber and carrot mixture.

If you’d like to see Rachel make her version, click here:  Rachel Ray’s Chicken Teriyaki

Let me know if you try it and what you think…  I’ll add our thoughts to the comments section as well!

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