My 3 Monsters
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cranberry & Feta Salad

Cranberry and Feta Salad recipe at my3monsters.com
Hi guys!  Today I want to share one of my FAVORITE easy lunches with y'all.  Here's a little back story . . . this summer I had to get some blood work done at my doctor's office.  Of course I had to be fasting, and the only appointment they had was at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Not a huge deal, but by the time they were done I was more than ready to eat and all I could think about was a salad I had at Paradise Bakery months ago.  I left the doctor's office and drove straight to Paradise and ordered a Crumbly Bleu Cheese salad.  I was literally and figuratively in Paradise.  

As I watched the gal behind the counter make it, though, I realized how easy it would be to recreate at home.  Romaine lettuce dressed with Caesar dressing.  A scoop of bleu cheese crumbles.  A scoop of dried cranberries.  Sprinkling of sunflower seeds.  Diced grilled chicken for protein.  Easy peasy.  I replaced the bleu cheese with crumbled Feta because it is easier to find and less expensive, but I think I like the Feta better anyway.  I take this Cranberry and Feta salad to work for lunch probably three days a week and it NEVER DISAPPOINTS!

Cranberry and Feta Salad recipe at my3monsters.com

Cranberry & Feta Salad


There are no exact measurements for this salad -- it all depends on how much you want to make.  For the bowl of salad pictured here I used:
 
1 smallish heart of Romaine {chopped into bite size pieces}
2 Tbsp. Feta cheese crumbles
2-3 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1-2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1/4 C. diced grilled chicken {optional, but delicious!}
approx. 2 Tbsp. lite Caesar dressing -- I like Ken's Steak House brand the best.

Cut Romaine heart into bite size chunks and place in a bowl.  Add Caesar dressing and toss to coat lettuce.  Top with Feta cheese, cranberries, sunflower seeds and chicken. Serve immediately.  

If I am packing this salad to take to work, I place all ingredients except dressing in a plastic container with lid.  Then I pour the dressing into another small container so I can add it right before I eat.  This way the lettuce doesn't get wilt-y and the salad stays yummy.

Cranberry and Feta Salad recipe at my3monsters.com
I mean, you're welcome.  Just look at all that goodness!  Since I went back to school a month ago I have lost about 15 pounds, which I attribute mostly to giving up soda {well, dramatically reducing anyway} and counting calories.  I've been resistant to calorie counting for years because it seems like such a drag.  Keeping track of everything I eat?  No thanks!  So I sat down one day and found a few things I would enjoy eating for breakfast and lunch {this salad included} and figured out how many calories were in those foods.  Now I have a list of "approved" meals to choose from every morning as I try to get out the door for work and life is simple.  For dinner I just eat a normal family meal, but I only have a small portion of the main dish and fill the rest of my plate with veggies and fruit.  

Cranberry and Feta Salad recipe at my3monsters.com
 Please share your favorite quick and easy healthy lunch in the comments -- I'm always looking to expand my repertoire!

Have a great day, friends!
Amy


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Get School Year Ready with this FREE One-Page Planner Printable

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


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
 Hi guys! We've been back to school for almost a month now, so we've had a chance to try out some new ideas to help keep us organized and have found something that is really working for our family.  I'm not gonna' lie -- last school year was a real struggle for us, with me working full time for the first time since having kids.  I felt like we were doomed to a life of late nights, fighting over homework, and slapping together school projects the night before they were due.  It was miserable. 

This year we needed to have a better system in place to avoid a repeat of that drama.  I'm a little bit of a planner myself -- I write lists, I have multiple calendars, I like things neat and tidy -- so I have a hard time relating to my teenagers who are loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types when it comes to keeping track of deadlines.  I knew I would never get my boys to carry {let alone use} day planners, but I had an idea for a single page "perpetual planner" they could keep in the front of their binders.  When I was at Walmart purchasing school supplies this year, I found this Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and knew I needed to have it in my life -- for this project and sooo many others.


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
My little organized soul has always wanted to own a laminator.  Oh, the possibilities for organization and crafts!  I practically skipped home with my new laminator {woo hoo!} and created a printable with the potential change the world as my family knows it.  {That's a little melodramatic, but fingers crossed!}


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
It couldn't be easier to make these planning pages for your kids.  Simply print one of the images {links below}, place it inside a Scotch™ Thermal Laminating Pouch and run it through the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator.  Easy cheesy. 


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
When it comes out of the laminator, place a 2x2 Post-it® note in each of the blank squares.  We chose to punch holes in our laminated pages and place them in the front of my kids' binders, but you could glue magnets to the back and hang them on the refrigerator or hang on the wall using cute embellished clip boards to create a family "command center" for younger kids.


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
My boys are loving theirs!  My youngest is my kiddo who needs a little more help staying focused and motivated when it comes to school.  He is in 8th grade has 6 classes at school to keep up with, so at the end of each period he writes his homework or upcoming project deadlines for that class on one of the Post-its.  When he gets home from school we can sit down together and see exactly what needs to be done.  As he completes an assignment, he removes that Post-it® and replaces it with a blank one for tomorrow. 

This year we've started expecting a little more from our kids before they settle in to play video games or watch TV in the evening.  Our boys are involved in Scouting, so they are supposed to "do a good turn daily" -- something nice for someone else that is completely their own idea.  We are also working as a family to be more grateful, so there is a spot to write what they are grateful for that day.  Lastly, we are emphasizing the need for everyone to chip in with the housework since we are ALL busy.  They have their set chores to do, but we also want them to look around and find a little something extra that could be done in addition to those.  Sometimes we have to give them an assignment, but usually they do OK on their own.


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
My oldest is a Senior {and a girl} who is naturally more self-motivated.  She uses hers a little differently -- to keep track of extracurricular activities and college application deadlines as well as school work.  {Though she is still expected to do the same good deeds, gratitude, and chores the boys do.  We're all equals here!}

I have been amazed by how smoothly things have been going this year with this system in place.  I know it's early, but I am hopeful we can keep it up.  Because they're laminated, these planning pages should hold up for the whole school year.

As you can see in the photos above, I designed a "girl version" and a "boy version", with labeled and blank options for each.   With the blank version, you can print it and hand write the headings as my daughter did.  We chose to write the headings with an erasable marker after the sheet was laminated so she could change them as needed.


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
Click here to download the Red & Gray page WITH headings.
Click here to download the Red & Gray page WITHOUT headings.
Click here to download the Rainbow page WITH headings.
Click here to download the Rainbow page WITHOUT headings.

As always, these images are available for your personal use.


Get #SchoolYearReady with these FREE One-Page Planner printables at my3monsters.com
I've shared how I'm using Scotch™ Laminating Products to get School Year Ready! What project are you planning to use them for?

Happy Back to School, friends!
Amy


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables

Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables at my3monsters.com
Hi guys!  Yesterday I shared four yummy popcorn recipes that would be perfect for  Fantastic Four movie party.  Today I have the printables I created to accompany them for you!  Years ago we rented out a theater for the premiere of The Avengers and invited all our friends to join us.  It was one of the most memorable things we have ever done as a family and we have all been itching to do it again.  Super hero movies just lend themselves to viewing with friends.  If you are thinking about throwing a Fantastic Four viewing party {even if it's just watching the older Fantastic Four movies in your back yard}, I have some fun printables that will make the evening memorable!

Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables at my3monsters.com


Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables at my3monsters.com

Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables at my3monsters.com
Fantastic Four Movie Party Printables at my3monsters.com
I designed these two-sided tags to be attached to small cellophane bags of flavored popcorn.  Dowload the pdf file from my Dropbox here.  I simply printed the tags in color onto card stock, cut out the squares and glued them back to back, with the logo on one side and the character on the other.  Then I punched a hole on one corner and tied them to the tops of the bags with ribbon.  I kept my bags of popcorn on the small side because I knew many people would want to sample more than one {if not all} of the flavors.  Attach the picture to the flavor of popcorn that represents each character, or randomly attach to bags of plain, buttered popcorn.

You could also punch holes in the top and bottom of each tag and slide onto drinking straws to keep the theme going in all your treats!


See -- it's a popcorn party as much as a movie party.  Because, I mean, if you go to the trouble of making FOUR different flavors of popcorn . . .  Download the blank invitation from my Drop box here.  It is a 5x7 image that you can open in any photo editing program {like Photoshop, Gimp, or PicMonkey} to add all your own info.  If you don't feel super tech-savvy, use a gel pen to hand-write the details on the invitations.  See, I'm lookin' out for all y'all!   

{BTW... because I know some of you are going to ask . . . the font I used at the bottom is Chanpagne & Limousines.  It's an awesome, stylish basic font that I use a whole lot.}

I hope that helps some of you guys in planning family get-togethers or children's birthday parties.  For the popcorn recipes, click on the image below.

http://www.my3monsters.com/2015/08/four-fantastic-popcorn-recipes-and-pop.html

Have a great day, friends!
Amy


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Four Fantastic Popcorn Recipes
{and a Pop Secret Coupon!}

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Pop Secret, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #pop4Fantastic4 http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
Hi guys!  I teased my Instagram followers last week with a sneak peek of this fun post. Well, today's the day I'm finally going to make good on my promise of delicious Pop Secret Fantastic Four popcorn flavors inspired by one of the summer's {and my boys'} most anticipated movies!  

Some of our most memorable family celebrations have centered around super-hero movies.  Several years ago we rented out a theater for the premier of one of them and invited all of our friends to join us.  It was a super fun night!  For my daughter's Sweet Sixteen party, she and two of her besties {twins whose birthday is just a few days after hers} hosted a "back yard drive-in" movie party.  For both events, I got carried away creating themed invitations, decorations, and delicious snacks.  With that in mind, I thought a similar party for Fantastic 4 would be amazing.  Every good movie party has to have yummy popcorn, and every good popcorn recipe starts with Pop Secret popcorn!

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
My favorite of all the Pop Secret flavors is Homestyle -- it is the perfect base for just about any recipe so I always pick up a box when I'm doing my shopping at Walmart.  I wanted to create a different popcorn flavor for each character.  I had to call for reinforcements as I was coming up with recipes because, sadly, I am not as familiar with the Fantastic Four as I "ought" to be.  *hanging my head in shame*  My husband and kids saved the day as they got out their Marvel Comics Encyclopedia {yes, that's a real thing and we actually own it} and schooled me in the history and powers of the Fantastic Four.  

Here's what I learned in this crash course and what we came up with:

Mr. Fantastic {aka. Dr. Reed Richards} has elastic powers, meaning he can stretch his body to crazy lengths.  I immediately thought of stretchy, gooey marshmallow caramel popcorn to represent him.

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
The Invisible Woman {aka. Sue Storm} can turn herself or any other object invisible, so I wanted a flavor of popcorn that was sneaky -- one that you could taste, but was almost impossible to see. Savory Ranch is a family favorite and totally fits the bill.

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
The Human Torch {aka. Johnny Storm} generates fiery plasma over his entire body and can fly.  Hot and spicy was what I wanted for this one, so White Chocolate Hot Tamale popcorn was the winner to represent him.

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
Finally, The Thing {aka. Ben Grimm} is a rock monster with super-human strength.  In the comics he is orange, so we decided to make Orange Candy Popcorn topped with Pop Rocks.

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
I know, I know. It seems like a lot of work to make FOUR DIFFERENT popcorn flavors, right?  Really, it wasn't too bad.  The kids were happy to help and almost all of it is done in the microwave, so it only took about an hour to chef up all four batches.  Plus, my "cool mom factor" skyrocketed, so . . . totally worth it.  

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
As promised, here are the recipes.  Come back tomorrow for the printable tags and invitation!
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Mr. Fantastic's Gooey Marshmallow Caramel Corn

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
1 and 1/2 bags Pop Secret popcorn {any flavor -- we prefer Homestyle}
1 stick of butter {1/2 cup}
1 C. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 C. mini-marshmallows

Pop popcorn and place in a large bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.  Melt the butter in a medium pot on the stove top over medium-low heat to avoid burning.  When butter is melted, add brown sugar and corn syrup.  Mix well.  Add marshmallows and stir continuously until they are all melted.  Pour mixture over popcorn and mix well, until popcorn is completely covered.  Spread popcorn on wax paper to cool. 

It only takes about 5 minutes, but it is soooooo good!
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Sue Storm's Invisible Savory Ranch Popcorn

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
1 and 1/2 bags Pop Secret Popcorn {any flavor -- we prefer Homestyle}
1 pkg. ranch dressing powdered mix

This is the easiest popcorn you will ever make, but it is always a crowd pleaser!  Pop popcorn and place in a bowl.  While popcorn is still hot, sprinkle ranch dressing powder over popcorn and stir to coat thoroughly.  Done-zo! And Yumm-o!
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The Human Torch's Spicy White Chocolate Hot Tamale Popcorn

Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.com
1 and 1/2 bags Pop Secret popcorn {any flavor -- we prefer Homestyle}
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 C. hot cinnamon candies {we like chewy Hot Tamales, but Red Hots would also work}

If you are using Hot Tamales, cut each piece in half and set aside. Pop popcorn and place in a large bowl.  Remove any unpopped kernels.  Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Do not over cook it!  Pour melted chocolate over the popcorn and gently stir to coat.  Add cinnamon candies and stir until they are evenly distributed throughout popcorn.  Spread out on wax paper to cool.  When it is cooled and chocolate hardens, you may need to gently break up any large chunks into bite-size clusters.

I usually make this at Christmas time, so my daughter said it reminded her of the holidays!
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The Thing's Pop Rock Candy Popcorn


Delicious Fantastic Four inspired popcorn recipes from my3monsters.comI have already shared the recipe for Candy Popcorn on the blog -- it's our family's Fourth of July tradition.  This popcorn is made the exact same way.  The only thing I did different was to sprinkle on Pop Rocks for an added surprise!  I added them before baking the popcorn when I made it, but they melted in with the candy coating so I was kind of bummed.  Next time I will sprinkle the Pop Rocks immediately after removing from the oven, while the candy coating on the popcorn is still warm and slightly sticky so they will stick to the popcorn, but retain their "pop".  

Remember, you will taste both the flavor of the gelatin and the Pop Rocks, so pick two flavors that will go together.  I used Orange gelatin and fruit punch flavored Pop Rocks -- oddly, the combined flavor tastes like peach, which is yummy, but unexpected!
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Since you'll be buying a lot of Pop Secret Popcorn for these recipes, how about an awesome deal?! Shop at Walmart and Buy any 3 Pop-Secret items between 7/31 – 8/31 and get a Free ticket to the Fantastic Four movie (up to $5) while supplies last.

Come back tomorrow for the free printable tags and movie party invitation. Do you have a favorite popcorn recipe or movie night tradition?  Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!

Have a great day!
Amy


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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Industrial Pipe Shelving Project

If you spend any time reading DIY and decorating blogs -- or "building" a dream home on Pinterest, like I do -- you have no doubt seen a slew of industrial pipe shelving projects.  They're quite popular recently.  I absolutely love the look and I knew the first time I saw a pipe shelving unit that I was going to build one in my boys' bedroom someday. We FINALLY got around to doing it this summer!

The room is not perfectly styled and the lighting in there is atrocious, but we did it and I love it.  Here are a few of the pieces that inspired me most:



Industrial Pipe Shelving

{via DIY Show Off}

{via Beneath My Heart

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel by writing a detailed tutorial myself -- Beneath My Heart has the fantastic tutorial I followed myself -- but I will share some of the things we learned along the way.  I started this project the same way I start most projects -- by planning it out roughly to scale on graph paper.  This helped me get a good idea of the layout that would work in the space.  Of course, my actual shelving unit ended up a little taller than the drawing because I did not account for the height the joining pieces would add.  Be sure you leave yourself plenty of "wiggle room" at the top as you plan.
My experience building an industrial pipe shelving unit at my3monsters.com -- it's easier than you might think!
Using my plan, I figured out how many of each size pipe and type of joint  I was going to need. I used 3/4-inch galvanized plumbing pipe and 2 x 12 -inch wood boards.  Some of the tutorials I saw called for thinner pipes and shelves, but I really the think the thicker pipe and wood are worth the extra money.  I feel like it makes the shelves look far more substantial.  

My experience building an industrial pipe shelving unit at my3monsters.com -- it's easier than you might think!
You will not believe how quickly they come together!  It took us less than 2 hours to complete this unit one evening.  Just make sure to use a level so things stay straight and you'll have no problems. 

I'm still looking for a few more cool things to fill in the blank spaces. I'm thinking a globe, a giant basket for shoes under the bottom shelf, and an old Coke crate should do the trick.  I also think it needs a plant or two, but the boys have forbidden me to make it "girly".  

My experience building an industrial pipe shelving unit at my3monsters.com -- it's easier than you might think!
I made several more Vintage Soda storage crates to help the boys keep all their personal effects organized in between their beds. Now when they empty their pockets at the end of the day, they have someplace to put their wallets, loose change and the various and sundry things they pick up in the course of a day.  There are even designated spots for the essentials like deoderant and my son's glucose tablets and test strips.

My experience building an industrial pipe shelving unit at my3monsters.com -- it's easier than you might think!
Rusty metal boxes and a bull dog to wear their ties when it's not Sunday were a no-brainer.  Although, that bulldog almost caused this whole project to crash and burn early on.  Let's just say the middle child was not a fan.  I'm happy to report he has come around.

This is one of my favorite DIY's we've done in this house. Up next for this room: building new beds that match the shelving unit.  I also want to hang a couple of lamps above the beds and make new quilts.  Stay tuned for the completed room. What are y'all working on at home?

Have a great day, friends!

Amy 


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