My 3 Monsters

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5.11.2016

Buy a Box, Give a Free Box PLUS a Delicious Churro-Inspired Snack Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiveABox #CollectiveBias


Hi guys!  Today I have a delicious snack recipe to share with y'all, but first let me explain the inspiration for it.  Do you have any silly little traditions in your family?  Maybe tradition is the wrong word.  I’m not talking about the biggies – like, anything involving Christmas or the major holidays.  Just silly little things you have always done, and maybe you don’t even remember why?  Like how I cut pizza with scissors because that’s just how my mom did it when I was growing up.  I didn’t even know that it was weird until long after I got married.  Or how my kids settle every argument by rolling dice, instead of Rock-Paper-Scissors style like normal people.

A big one in our family was the “Church Cheerios™”.  For years we marched our three small children into church every week in their Sunday best with baggies of cereal in hand. An hour is a long time for little kiddos to sit quietly and it was a fairly mess-less, wholesome snack to keep their busy hands, mouths, and minds occupied during church services.  This went on, Sunday after Sunday, for nearly a decade – from the time our oldest was a toddler until our youngest was well into Kindergarten.  My older sister did the same thing with her kids.  Maybe we learned it from our mom.  And I’m sure my daughter will someday take her kids to church, cereal in hand, because “that’s just what you do”.

It’s amazing when you realize how much of what we do as adults is influenced by our mothers. The way they do things day-in and day-out becomes etched in our memories and becomes a part of who we are. I think of my mom countless times every day as I find myself doing things that I have watched her do my whole life.  Whenever I make sloppy joes in my electric skillet.  Whenever I make my kids do “big cleaning” on Friday afternoon.  Whenever I sew something. Whenever I sit at the table long after I have finished eating so that my slowpoke eater will not have to sit there alone after everyone else has abandoned him. The way I make my grocery list and answer the phone.  All influenced by my mom. 

I feel blessed beyond reason with the family I was born into.  On days when I can barely keep it together raising my three teenagers, I remember my mom’s example.  If she could somehow manage to make seven kids (whose ages span fifteen years) each feel uniquely special and loved, I can do the same for my three.  And on days when I drop the ball a little, I take comfort in the fact that my kids have a pretty amazing grandma to turn to.

Delicious Churro Cheerios Snack recipe at my3monsters.com
While doing my grocery shopping at Walmart the other day I saw these exclusive, specially marked "Buy a Box, Give a Free Box" packages of Cheerios. All you have to do is buy a box of specially marked Cheerios™ at Walmart, visit the website to enter the code on the box, and fill out an E-card online for your special person to redeem at Walmart and receive a free box of cereal. Cool, right?  I immediately thought of my baby sister who recently had her first baby.  Who better to pass the "Church Cheerios™" tradition on to than our sweet baby Clara?!  It's fun to see my sister become a mother and join the rest of us in passing some of our mother's goodness along to another generation.   


My children have long since outgrown taking snacks to church and, much to their chagrin, are now expected to sit quietly through Sunday services sans cereal.  But we do have three giant glass jars of cereal sitting on the kitchen counter top at home for convenient after church -- or school, or late night -- snacking.  


Delicious Churro Cheerios Snack recipe at my3monsters.com
I wanted to try something a little different for an after school snack this week, so I made my kiddos some Churro Cheerios™ Snacks, or Churrios as my son called them.  It's a super simple recipe that is a riff on the old Hot Buttered Cheerios™ of the 80's.  I'm bringin'em back, baby!  I'm not even kidding when I say these only took about 5 minutes to cook up -- and barely longer than that for the fam to scarf them down.  These are so stinkin' yummy!

Churro Cheerios™ Snacks

4 C. Cheerioscereal
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet.  

When butter is completely melted, add cereal and stir to coat.  

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cereal starts to turn golden brown.  Watch it carefully because it will burn quickly if you leave it on the heat too long.  

Dump the hot, buttery cereal into a large bowl and add sugar and cinnamon.  Stir well to coat.  

Serve immediately.


Delicious Churro Cheerios Snack recipe at my3monsters.com
Who will you give your gift box of Cheerios™ to? A special teacher?  A neighbor or friend? Go ahead, brighten someone's day with a special gift!

Have a great day, friends!

Amy


5.10.2016

My Printable Confetti Banner Letters Today on Lolly Jane

Adorable set of Printable Confetti Banner letters by my3monsters.com for Lolly Jane.
Hi guys!  Today I am sharing these Printable Confetti Banner Letters over at Lolly Jane.  School is winding down and we are gearing up for summer pool parties and the many summer birthdays in our family.  This set of letters -- including the full alphabet, numbers 0 through 9, plus a few extras -- is perfect for making banners for all your summer get-togethers.  Head on over to Lolly Jane for the download link and instructions {along with a free coordinating party invitation template}!  

Adorable set of Printable Confetti Banner letters by my3monsters.com for Lolly Jane.

 Have a great day, friends!

Amy


Printable Confetti Alphabet Banner


5.05.2016

MIni Succulent Planter Cakes

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
A couple of years ago, I was given a little succulent in a mason jar as a thank you gift for something or other.  It was adorable and totally brightened my day.  Naturally, when I needed a few little thank you gifts recently, that idea came back to my mind.  And then I thought (a direct quote from my inner dialogue}, “You know what this idea needs?  More chocolate cake.”  There’s not much, in my opinion, that isn’t vastly improved by the addition of chocolate cake.  So I decided to fill the mason jar with chocolate cake and make little faux succulents out of fondant for the top, thus combining the two brilliant ideas into one super thank you gift.    These would be great as end of the year teacher gifts and they’re really, honestly, so easy to make.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com

You will need:

Mason jars – I like the little squatty ones for this.
Fondant – store bought or make your own
Gel frosting color {if your fondant is not already colored}
Petal Dust and a small paint brush
Small cookie or fondant cutters
Chocolate cake mix
Chocolate frosting
Crushed Oreos

First, bake your cake according to package instructions.  I baked mine in a 9 x 13 pan – you can do smaller round pans or cupcakes.  It won’t make a difference.

While your cake is baking and cooling, make the fondant succulents.  Bear in mind that I am by no means a professional cake decorator, so my methods may be completely “wrong”.  I just do what works for me. The fondant, gel frosting color, petal dust, and shape cutters can all be found in the cake decorating section of any craft store.  I used store bought fondant when I made the succulents in the finished pictures, but it seemed very dry to me.  I decided to make my own marshmallow fondant when I photographed the steps to make the succulents below and I like it a lot better because I could control the color and consistency a little more.

Knead a hunk of fondant until it is soft and pliable.  Be sure to only work with a small piece of fondant at a time and keep the rest wrapped in saran wrap to avoid drying out.  Roll the fondant out to approx. 1/8” thick.  Use small cookie cutters as shown below to cut out the pieces for the smaller plant.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Form the succulent by stacking up the layers of fondant from largest to smallest, staggering the leaves on each layer.  

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Press down in the center gently to stick all the layers together and start to give it some shape.  Curve and shape the leaves until you are happy with the look.  

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com


For the larger plant, begin by rolling out your fondant to approximately 1/8" thick, then cut two larger flower shapes and two smaller flower shapes.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Use a knife to cut a small slit in the fondant in between each petal.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Shape each petal into a more "pointy" shape as shown below.  You'll have to work fairly quickly so the fondant doesn't begin to dry out.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
As with the smaller plant, stack all four layers from largest to smallest, staggering the leaves so they don't overlap.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Press down in the center gently to stick all the layers together and start to give it some shape.  Curve and shape the leaves until you are happy with the look.  To form the centers of the larger plants, roll a small piece of fondant into a ball.  Cut an X in the top of it with a knife and gently spread open slightly.  Place in the center of the plant then set aside.  

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
It may be helpful to place your little plants in a mini-muffin tin to help them keep their 3 dimensional shape as they dry.   

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Use a dry brush to lightly dust the edges of the leaves with petal dust to give them a more realistic two-tone effect.
  
Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
If you don’t have cookie or fondant cutters, you could sculpt your plant out of the fondant, just like you would with clay.

Assemble the planters by scooping chocolate cake into your mason jars.  Make sure to gently pack it in so there are no air pockets.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Top cake with a layer of chocolate frosting.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Sprinkle crushed Oreos in a ring around the outer edge of your frosting, leaving the center free.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
Arrange fondant succulents on top, using a dab of extra frosting to stick them in place if necessary.

Darling Mini Succulent Planter Cakes in mason jars from my3monsters.com
To finish them off tie a ribbon around the rim of the jar and possibly attach a cute little fork and a tag.  They’ll be a huge hit with their recipients, guaranteed.  

Have a great day, friends!

Amy


4.28.2016

How I Got the Courage to Paint My Piano and You Can, Too!

Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
Hi guys! Today I'm going to share with you the story of a girl with a piano ... and a dream.  Years ago when our neighbors were moving, they came to us and asked if we wanted a piano.  For free.  Seriously.  They didn't want to haul the piano with them to their new house, and, because it had been in his family for generations, he wanted another family with kids to have it and appreciate it.  We obviously jumped at the chance to own a beautiful old piano  and called several strong men to come help us transfer the piano from their house to ours.  Immediately.  Before they could change their minds.

I have to tell you, at this point it wasn't much to look at.  It had a few broken keys, some badly damaged corners, and needed a serious tuning.  My husband was doubtful about taking on such a big project, but I saw its potential and I clung to my dream of fixing that old piano up.  I mean, you don't look a gift piano in the mouth, right?!  But you might let said gift piano sit for a few years in its ugliness because you are paralyzed by fear.

I knew I wanted to paint it.  Without a doubt.  But I was scared.  It seemed like a TON of work and what if I messed it up?  And, for that matter, what color should I paint it anyway?  It was a job that I was only going to do ONCE if I ever got up the courage to do it, so I had to get it right.  I read everything I could find on the internet about painting a piano.  I pinned every image of painted pianos on Pinterest -- like, literally every single one.  At first I was set on having a turquoise piano, but finally talked myself into creamy white.  White is classic and goes with everything.  Last summer I just decided to do it already, and {spoiler alert!} I am thrilled with the results!


Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
So, this post is less of a tutorial on how to paint a piano, and more a pep talk for actually painting your piano.  Because YOU CAN DO IT!  Yeah, it takes some elbow grease and time, but you can do it.  Fairly easily.  And you won't regret it ... in the end.  I had my doubts along the way -- and probably so will you -- but if you stick with it, it will really come together.  

In my infinite lack of wisdom, I didn't take a before picture.  I tend to mull ideas to death for months, but when I make a decision I strike while the iron is hot.  I just jump into projects, on a whim, on a Tuesday afternoon, without warning.  I did post this photo to instagram after I had the ancient shellac stripped off:

Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
I had decided to use BB Frosh chalk paint powder and a Benjamin Moore paint called String of Pearls.  I know they say you don't have to sand or strip the original finish first, but my piano was so old and so dirty, I thought it was probably best.  I used a natural product called Citristrip and it worked like a charm.  I repaired the damaged edges and corners by using a wood putty to build it back up and then sanded it smooth.  I decided to leave some of the dings on the edge of the bench because It gave it character.  This whole process took me a couple of days, working a few minutes at a time when I got a chance.  

When I finally got around to painting, I was very, very excited!  This was finally my moment.  All my piano-oriented dreams were coming true.  And then I got half way done with the first coat ... and I hated it.  It wasn't looking at all like I had imagined and I just wanted to quit and roll that old piano to the dump.  After allowing me to shed a few tears over it, my husband encouraged me to "just finish it for goodness' sake". {Or something similar, but slightly more colorful.}  I had so much invested in it already and very little to lose.  Sometimes my husband is a genius like that.  Because once I was done with the 2 and a half-ish coats of paint and the whole thing was creamy white, I kinda' started to like it.  

It wasn't until I sanded the edges to give it a little distressed finish that I fell in love with that old piano.  I mean, check it out:


Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
It brought out all the beautiful lines and details.  After sanding and waxing, the finish was buttery soft and PERFECT!

Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
The white of the piano is a little bit different than the walls -- a couple shades more toward the cream side.  I love how this giant beast of an upright piano doesn't feel quite so heavy and imposing now.


Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
{Please excuse the second bad Instagram photo -- it was the only one I had from the same angle as the first.} Here's a close-up of one of the worst damaged corners I had to repair.  It was missing a hunk of wood right along the front edge.  After building it back up with putty, you almost can't even tell it was damaged.


Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
I am thrilled with the results.  You will be, too.  The moral of this story is that you can paint your piano.  You can.  Even if you don't think you know how.  Even if you're overwhelmed.  You can do it.  And if you've always dreamed of a painted piano, you should do it.  No regrets!


Painted pianos are all the rage, but do you have the courage to take that project on? You should and this is why! The story of my painted piano at my3monsters.com
So, tell me.  What big project do you have in the works?  Share links so we can check them out!!

Have a great day, friends!

Amy


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