My 3 Monsters: June 2013

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Grilled Peaches

Grilled Peaches with Honey Lime sauce -- recipe at /

I found this most delicious recipe in a magazine years ago.  {It's been so long I can't even remember which one -- Real Simple maybe?}  At first I was a little put off by the idea of grilled fruit.  I just hadn't ever heard of it before.  My husband thought it sounded great so we gave it a try and am I ever-so glad we did!  It had become a family tradition.  Every time we have grilled peaches it takes me right back to when we first made it -- sitting on the porch swing in the backyard of our rental house with my much littler kids as the sun set . . . Those were good times.  My 15 year-old daughter says this is the taste of childhood for her.  To me it's the taste of summer.  It's sweet and fresh and perfectly satisfying at the end of a hot summer day.

To grill the peaches, simply cut each peach in half and remove the pit -- leave the skin on.  Sprinkle the cut sides with a little bit of sugar and pinch of ground ginger then place face down on the grill.  {We make these at the end of a BBQ, when the coals have had a chance to cool off a little.  They don't need to be super hot.}  Leave them on the heat until the peaches become nice and soft -- maybe 5 minutes or so depending on how much your grill has cooled.

Grilled Peaches with Honey Lime sauce -- recipe at /

While the peaches are on the grill, mix up your honey lime sauce.  

Honey Lime Sauce for Grilled Peaches

juice from 1 lime
zest from 1 lime
1/2 C. honey

Mix honey, lime juice and lime zest in a small bowl until combined.  Set aside until peaches are done.

Serve the peaches in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Drizzle the honey lime sauce over top and just about die from deliciousness.  You can't believe how good it is -- the tartness of the peaches mixed with the creamy sweetness of the ice cream and a little kick of citrus.  I'm drooling just a little bit here.

Grilled Peaches with Honey Lime sauce -- recipe at /

Not only is it super yummy, it's pretty healthy as far as desserts go and it looks kinda fancy.  Your guests will certainly be impressed when you bring this little dish to the table at the end of your meal.  

Join me tomorrow to see how you can make a custom painted drink cooler to make your summer BBQ extra special.  Have a great day, friends!


Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken recipe at /

One of my all-time favorite grill foods is Teriyaki Chicken.  Growing up it was always a treat when we had grilled teriyaki steak and rice pilaf for Sunday dinner.  My mom's homemade teriyaki marinade is so much more delicious than anything you can buy in the store.  Nowadays, I prefer chicken to steak, but both are absolutely winners in my book! 

Just whip up a batch of this easy marinade and let the meat sit in it over night, soaking up all the delicious flavor and juiciness, then cook it on the grill and you'll be in taste-bud heaven!  It really is one of the easiest meals I make.

Teriyaki Marinade

1/4 C. oil
1/4 C. soy sauce
1/4 C. honey
2 Tbsp.  vinegar
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 lg. clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger

I like to put my meat in a zip-loc bag then dump the marinade ingredients in on top, seal the bag, and squish it all around to combine.  If you poke holes in the meat with a fork ahead of time it helps the meat to really soak up the flavor, but sometimes I forget to do that and it still tastes great.  Marinate in the refrigerator over night before cooking.  

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken recipe at /
We love this cooked on the grill, but I have broiled it in the oven in a pinch and that's yummy, too.  {Are you getting that you almost can't mess this recipe up?!}  Serve it with a side of rice pilaf and your family will LOVE it!

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken recipe at /

Come back tomorrow for a delicious grilled dessert recipe that is one of our family favorites!


Back Yard BBQ Party Invitation
{Free Printable!!}

It's that time of year again -- the 4th of July is right around the corner, days are longer, and our schedules seem a lot free-er {for a little while at least}.  It's back yard or pool side BBQ time!!  I just love getting together with friends, grilling up some yumminess and watching the kids swim late into the evening.  Sure, you can gather your friends spontaneously with a quick phone call or text, but a pretty invitation makes the event extra-special.

I designed some fun, rustic invitations that can be customized and printed to invite all your friends over for the fun.

Back Yard BBQ Party Invitation {free printable} at /

If you would like to use these printable invitations, simply click one of the images below and save the file to your computer:

Back Yard BBQ Party Invitation {free printable} at /Back Yard BBQ Party Invitation {free printable} at /

Once you have downloaded the file, you can open it in any photo editing program {Photoshop, Gimp, PicMinkey, etc. }  to add the date, lime and location.  The invitations are sized to be printed as 5x7 photo prints or postcards.  If you would like to match the fonts I used you can download them {for free!} here:

When your friends receive one of these bad boys in the mail, they'll know you mean serious business!  Join me this week for some delicious grilling recipes and a custom cooler project to make your BBQ the best {and cutest} in town.

{For more free printables, check out my Printables Page!}


Porch Pillows and Finishing Touches

I have liked all the recent additions to my front porch decor -- the book page wreath and the family name sign -- but it was looking a little flat.  It needed a good pop of color to bring it all to life.  And some softness.  Something to make it feel homey and welcoming.  It was time to dig into my fabric stash and whip up a few fun pillows for my bench and recycle a few accent pieces to warm the whole thing up.

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /

I made a few really simple envelope-closure pillow covers and then embellished them to make them more interesting.  {Martha Stewart has a good explanation of how to make an envelope-closure pillow cover if you're not sure how.} The first pillow was really easy.  Whenever I cut out fabric for a project and there is just a little strip or small piece of fabric left over at the end, I can hardly bear to throw even those small scraps away so I save them in a bag in my craft closet.  They always come in handy when I want to make a quick rolled rosette to embellish something.  For this project I took a bunch of my favorite scraps and made a little garland to swag across that pretty blue pillow cover.

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /

I cut a piece of twine as wide as my pillow plus several inches so it would have room to drape and leave short ends to attach it to the pillow cover.  Then I cut scraps of fabric approximately 1 inch wide by 6-9 inched long and tied them to the twine randomly.

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /

To attach it to the pillow I sewed the twine into the side seams of the pillow cover, about 2 inches from the top.  I LOVE the bright combination of colors and patterns.  Plus, since the fabrics were all scraps from other projects they are all inside our home as well so the porch becomes a nice little preview of what you'll see when you come in.

For the white pillow I cut long strips of the white fabric I used to make the base and sewed them all together end-to-end to create one super-long strip of fabric about 1 inch wide and several yards long.  To finish the long edges, sew a zig-zag stitch down each side of the strip. Stitch right down the center of the strip and gathered it into a ruffle.  Once my ruffle was created,  I marked 3 concentric squares onto the front of my pillow cover, pinned the ruffles along the lines I had marked and stitched them in place.

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /

It's a nice contrast to the busy-ness of the blue pillow and just looks crisp and clean on the turquoise bench.  The yellow and white polka dot pillow I left plain to serve as a colorful backdrop for the other two.  The pillows were great and added a lot of hominess to the porch, but I wanted to bring in a few more things to round out the design.

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /
I love the metal bucket right next to the front door for kicking off flip-flops before coming in the house after a trip to the pool and the tall basket of decorative sticks adds some visual weight to the bench.  It's so much more welcoming now than when I started at the beginning of the week:

Adding some warmth to your front porch with pillows and accessories at /

Remember that?!  So much better now!!  I think it's a much better reflection of who we are as a family and gives a much better first impression.  What do you think?  Do you make an effort to tie your front porch into your home decor or am I just crazy?  Have a great weekend, friends!


Family Name Porch Decor

Family Name Porch Decor at /
As I have been attempting to give my front porch a little face lift, I knew one of the things that needed to be redone was our family name sign.  We've had this little signboard hanging over our entry for the past eight years or so:

Family Name Porch Decor at /
I made it at a church craft day all those years ago and I hated it almost from the moment I brought it home.  I mean, I loved the idea of it . . . it's a super cute idea, but I HATE the lettering.  There were only two different stencil sets available at the craft day so I chose the one I hated the least.  I'll admit I'm a horrible font snob.  It's not really that bad, but it has always bugged me.  It never occurred to me that I could have hand lettered it.  Anyway, I have cringed every time I have walked into my house for the past eight years.  Plus, the white paint had yellowed over time.  It was time for a change.

I had picked up this wooden "Hay Rides" sign years ago on fall/Halloween clearance at Target, but had really only hung it up once or twice.

Family Name Porch Decor at /
I decided to give that cute arrow a fresh coat of paint and a new purpose in life.  I used the same spray paint technique that I used on my mini-pallet art project to give it a pretty distressed turquoise finish.  When the paint had dried and I had roughed up the edges to my hearts content, I used white craft paint to hand letter our name.  Seriously, it's just that easy.  Of course, you could cut vinyl lettering or use a stencil if you're not comfortable with hand lettering.

Family Name Porch Decor at /
I am loving the way it turned out.  It feels so much more modern and fresh.  Also, it doesn't make me cringe anymore  so, bonus!!  

Family Name Porch Decor at /
{This picture makes me cringe just a little.}  You can see that the front porch mini-makeover is coming along.  I like how the wreath, signboard and bench all coordinate.  Now it's time to add a few pops of fun color.  I hope you'll join me tomorrow to see the new pillow covers I made to go on the bench.

Have a great day, friends!


Book Page Wreath

Easy & Inexpensive Book Page Wreath at /

Hi, friends!!  I'm a little embarrassed to admit how neglected my front porch has been lately.  I'm not sure if I've had a wreath up on my front door since, like, Christmas . . . that's almost half a year!!  It was time for a little mini-makeover so this week I threw together a few quick and inexpensive projects to spruce the space up.  The wreath situation was the most shameful so I tackled that first. 

If you have spent any time on the internet at all lately, I'm sure you all have seen the abundance of book page wreaths in all shapes and sizes.  I really like book page projects {like this printable art . . . and this bunny}  and I have a bunch of old books from the thrift store set aside for just such a project.  What's better is that you don't even need a wreath form to make this so it was extremely inexpensive.  

Easy & Inexpensive Book Page Wreath at /

To create this wreath all you need is an old book, a piece of card stock or thin cardboard, a piece of ribbon {any width or color} to create a hanger on the back, and lots of hot glue.  

Begin by carefully tearing a bunch of pages out of your book.  Roll each page into a narrow cone shape and secure with hot glue.  Once you have a big pile of cones made {my wreath took 70}, trace a dinner plate onto your piece of card stock and cut it out to create the base for your wreath.

Imagine that your circle is a clock and hot glue a cone at 12, 3, 6, and 9.  This will ensure that your cones don't get crooked as you glue them around the circle.  Fill in the spaces with more cones until your outer circle is complete.  Create the inner circle the same way, trimming 2-3 inches off the pointy end of the cones if needed and gluing them directly on top of the outer circle cones.

Easy & Inexpensive Book Page Wreath at /

Create an accordion pinwheel and glue it on to cover all the raw edges in the center of your wreath.  My book just happened to have a cool G in the title so I cut it out and added the little monogram in the center.  

To finish, flip your wreath over and hot glue the ribbon in a loop on the back to create a hanger.  Slip the loop over the hook of your wreath hanger on your door and you're done!  I only managed to burn myself {badly} once in the whole process, which is not too shabby for me.

Easy & Inexpensive Book Page Wreath at /

I like the way it pops on my black door.  Plus, it adds a whole lotta' visual punch for exactly $0 -- my favorite price!  Thanks for stopping by today.  Join me this week to see how the porch shapes up with the rest of my inexpensive DIY ideas.


Sand Cake

Delicious vanilla pudding cake that looks like a bucket of sand!  at /
My daughter turned 15 on Friday!  I can hardly believe how quickly she has grown up.  In my mind she is still . . .

 . . . my sweet, little baby. {Maybe if I convince the Motor Vehicle Division of that I can keep her off the road in a few months.}  In honor of her love of all things beachy, we made her a Sand Cake to celebrate!

Delicious vanilla pudding cake that looks like a bucket of sand!  at /

You may be thinking, "That's a little juvenile for a 15 year old, Amy," but, in this case at least, you'd be wrong.  She and her friends thought it was the coolest {and yummiest} thing ever.  Plus, it's super easy to make so you'll be a hero all around!

Sand Cake 

yellow cake mix  {and ingredients to prepare}
1 large box vanilla pudding
3 C. milk
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 container Cool Whip
approx.  1 C. graham cracker crumbs
chocolate sea shell candy

Delicious vanilla pudding cake that looks like a bucket of sand!  at /


  • Bake cake mix according to package directions.  Allow to cool then cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Mix vanilla pudding with milk and softened cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.  Fold in the Cool Whip.
  • In a clean plastic sand pail alternately layer cake cubes and pudding mixture, ending with pudding on top.  {You should have about 3 layers of each.}
  • Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs an top, completely covering the pudding.  Decorate with chocolate sea shell candies {available in most candy stores}.  Chill for several hours {over night is best!} before serving.  We let the birthday girl scoop it out and serve it with the shovel that came with the pail. 
  • Optional:  Serve the Sand Cake with a scoop of fresh berries on top to add some extra-delicious flavor.
This would be a perfect dessert for any summer pool party or beach-themed get together.  It's light and cool so it's super refreshing on a hot summer day!

What is your favorite summer dessert?  I'm always looking for fun new ideas. I hope you'll join me later this week to see how I gave my front porch a mini-makeover with a few simple projects.Have a great day, friends!


Printable Binder Covers

Many of you know that I have been serving as the president of the Young Women's organization at our church for the past several years.  This past weekend I was released from that calling and given another opportunity to serve in a different organization.  {I'll tell y'all about that as soon as it becomes "official".} It has been bittersweet for me and I have shed many a tear over leaving "my girls", but my bestie, Shiela, is the one who is taking my place and I couldn't be leaving them in better hands.

Anyway . . . Today I wanted to share a digital printable I made when I was working with the Young Women.  I created this image to slip in the clear front pockets of the binders I gave to my girls at church to keep their activity calendars and stuff organized. They could be labeled and used for just about any kind of binder -- from a scrapbook to a journal to a recipe or home organization binder.  It is sized to fit an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper so you can print it right from your home printer.

Printable Binder Cover from / can be customized for any use!

Just click on the image above to be taken to my Photobucket page where you can download the high resolution jpeg file.  You can use any photo editing program {from Photoshop to Pic Monkey} to add your text in the center, then print and slip it into the binder cover.  If you're wary of photo editing programs, you could insert the image into a Word document and use text boxes to add your text or just print it as-is and write your label by hand.  

If you like this design, I hope you'll click the "printables' tab at the top of the page to see more of the images I have created.  Have a great weekend, friends!!


Bright & Cheerful Summer-y Bird Wreath

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /
 When I showed you how I made my little felt birds the other day I promised to show the project for which they were created -- a pretty summer wreath.  This was an easy project that was super fun to make.  The hardest part was deciding on a color scheme.  Since wool felt comes in so many great colors, the possibilities were almost endless.

I started by using an old twig and berry wreath that I had in my craft closet from forever ago.  I didn't think I was ever going to use it again so I have been snipping berry sprigs off of it to use on other projects.  It had a pretty sad little bald spot in the lower right corner -- wreaths don't really have corners, but you feel me, right?  I figured I could just fill that area in with flowers and make it look good in the end so I got to work crafting up colorful felt goodies.

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /

Like I said yesterday, I really like how the felt birds look here in their more colorful incarnations.  I can't help but smile when I look at them.  To go along with the happy little birds, I made several different styles of flowers:

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /

For the itty-bitty red flowers around the top edge I free-hand cut little flower shapes and then layered two together for each flower and secured them with a tiny french knot in the center.  {Y'all know how I love my french knots!}

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /

The loopy flowers were made by following this awesome tutorial at A Pumpkin and a Princess.  I have made a million of these since I first tried them on this Bright Spring Wreath last year.  I made a few big-ish ones using 3 different colors, several medium ones with 2 colors and a bunch of little 1 color puffs that worked great to fill any gaps between flowers throughout the wreath.  I also made a couple to use as the centers of the big poppy flowers.

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /
The poppies are my absolute favorite.  This tutorial at Positively Splendid is fantastic -- I mean, hello . . . that lampshade she made is stunning.  You should click the link to see it even if you have no intention of ever making felt poppies.

Once I had spent an evening hot-gluing up a bunch of pretties I played around with the layout on my wreath for a little bit then hot-glued the whole thing together.  Boom.  Done.

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /

I love it in here next to my front door along with a thrifted birdcage and this little chalkboard made out of an old cabinet door.

Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /
Bright and cheerful felt bird wreath diy at /
 It's the perfect cheerful pop of color for my summer entry.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I'll be sharing some printable binder covers I created.  I hope you'll come back to see them!


Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

Delicious Biscuits and Sausage Gravy recipe at /  
Hi friends!!  Thanks for stopping by today.  Did you see my guest post on I Heart Nap Time yesterday?  If not, take a sec to check out my delicious Pina Colada Smoothies over there and then come back.  I'll wait.

Yesterday's recipe was super summer-y and pretty healthy.  Today I want to share one of my favorite comfort foods in the whole world -- Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.  It is not light and cool to help you beat the heat.  Sorry.  Neither is it light on the calories to make you look cool in a swimsuit . . in the heat.  It is, however, the single happiest food that I ever get to eat.  Nothing takes me back to the cozy days of my childhood like biscuits and sausage gravy.  That's why I brave my hot kitchen to whip these bad boys up -- even in the summertime sometimes.

Growing up I don't think I ever knew a single other family who ate sausage gravy.  {Plus, I didn't know it was a breakfast food until, like, college since we always ate it for dinner.}  I was fairly certain that my mom was the genius who invented this heavenly food and I loved her for it.  I didn't know at the time that every family in the South enjoyed the same delightful tradition.  Now I carry the tradition forward in my own home and it is one of our favorite meals, too.

In just the past year or so I have been introduced to 7-Up Biscuits.  Have you had these magical things?!  They are a perfect combination of Bisquick, sour cream 7-Up soda, and butter.  OK, so those things sound absolutely terrible together, but you mix 'em up, cut 'em out with a cup and something miraculous happens in the oven.  They turn out perfectly light, moist and flaky every. Single. Time.  I always follow this recipe I found at Plain Chicken.  Good Biscuits and Gravy starts with good biscuits, for sure.

Did I ever tell you that one night when I couldn't sleep I watched a documentary about biscuits because I thought that would certainly be boring enough to help me out.  But I watched the entire show.  I. Love. Biscuits.

Delicious Biscuits and Sausage Gravy recipe at /

Now, the Sausage Gravy.  My mom's recipe is super simple, but it is by far the best I have ever tried.  You won't believe how easy it is.  Really.

My Mama's Sausage Gravy

2 lbs. breakfast sausage {the bulk kind in a roll}
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. flour
5 C. milk
pepper, onion powder, garlic salt to taste

Brown sausage in an electric skillet or frying pan.  Set sausage aside in a bowl and drain grease.  In the same skillet, melt butter.  Stir in flour to make a thick paste.  Cook the paste for a few minutes until it turns a golden brown color.  Gradually whisk in milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens.  Season with pepper, onion powder, and garlic salt to taste.  {NOTE:  It takes more seasoning than you might expect to keep the gravy from tasting too bland.  Just keep sprinkling and tasting until you like it.}  Stir browned sausage into the gravy and serve over biscuits.

My brothers all served two-year missions for our church in different parts of the world.  When they returned home, biscuits and gravy was one of the first meals they all asked for.  Whenever I have a rough day -- like when I drop my iPhone and break the screen, for instance -- biscuits and gravy is what I want to drown my sorrows in.  Even in the heat of summer.  Like I did today.

Come back tomorrow to see the fun summer-y felt wreath I made with my little felt birds.  Have a great day!!


Guest Posting Today!

Pina Colada Smoothies from /

Hey everyone!!  I've been bursting at the seams with excitement to share this news with you.  Today I'm guest posting over at I Heart Naptime as part of Jamielyn's Hello Summer series.  The monsters and I have been drinking Pina Coladas by the gallon over here while I was perfecting the recipe.  Today it's finally ready to share!! 

I Heart Naptime's Hello Summer Series -- Pina Colada Smoothies by /
 Start with these greek yogurt and pineapple cubes that you make yourself.  Cheap and easy -- like I like it.  {Plus, healthy-ish because of the greek yogurt, right?}

Jump on over to I Heart Naptime to get this delicious recipe and check out all the other great Hello Summer posts while you're there. 


Little Felt Birdies
{Super Easy DIY}

Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /
I had this crazy idea a while back to sew up some little fabric birds for a home dec project that I'll be sharing with you later this week.  I have endured my family's teasing {again} -- "Put a bird on it!" --as I created a whole flock of fabric and felt birds in the process of perfecting the pattern.   It's OK.  It's not their fault they have no creative vision . . . In the end they all admitted that my little felt birds were truly adorable and I felt vindicated.

They're super easy to make.  I'm talkin' beginner level easy.  The only special skill required is to know how to sew a blanket stitch.  There is a great tutorial on Future Girl that explains the blanket stitch incredibly well if you've never tried it before.  Easy Cheesy!  {Really, you don't even need to use a blanket stitch -- you can whip stitch it like I did in the photo below or hand sew it however you want.  A blanket stitch just gives it a little more "professional" finish.} 

You will need: Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

felt in your choice of colors {I prefer wool felt because it comes in such pretty colors, but it's a little more expensive.  I got mine here a while back.}
needle and thread

My original idea was to use fabric scraps and those ones were indeed cute, but then I got some beautiful wool felt for another project and I knew that that was exactly what I needed.  I made a cute little robin here for this tutorial, but you'll see in my finished project later this week how fun they can be in more whimsical color combinations.

After you have your felt pieces cut out, begin by sewing the head piece to one of the body pieces as shown:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

Then sew the other body piece to the head piece and close up the whole top seam:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

Next, sew the chest piece to one body piece:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

And close up the bottom of tail, leaving the other side of the chest and body open for stuffing:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

Stuff the birdy until it is as fluffy as you like it.  Use a pencil or other narrow object to make sure the stuffing makes it all the way into the tip of the tail:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

Finally, sew the opening shut and add the wings:
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

To give your little birdy eyes, use black embroidery floss to create french knots on both sides of the head.  {In hindsight, it might be easier to make the eyes before you stuff the bird and sew it closed.  Either way will work.}
Felt Bird Tutorial and pattern at /

There you have it!  A cute little robin in just a few minutes.  As you can see, you don't have to sew it perfectly.  The little flaws add personality and hand-made flair.  I can't wait to show you the pretty summer wreath I made using my little birdies and felt flowers.  Come back later in the week to check it out!!

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