My 3 Monsters: September 2013

Recent Posts


The {Life-Changing} Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet

Hi, friends!  Remember a few weeks ago when I organized my linen closet and told you I'd share a secret trick for keeping your sheets all orderly and beautiful?  Today is the day!!  I'm not even kidding you -- this simple trick has changed my life.  Forever. 

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /

We used to have sheets all over the place here.  Some in each of the kids' rooms, some in the master bedroom, and it was nearly impossible to find a complete matching set at any given time.  When we had guests I had to scrounge around for acceptable linens.  The first step, for me, was consolidating all the linens into one closet.  I know, that's a no-brainer.  Storing sheets in each bedroom seemed like a good idea at the time.  For us, one closet is way better.  Next I wanted to find a way to keep complete sheet sets together so that I could easily find all the pieces when I need them.

I took my search to Pinterest and found several great ideas, like storing the flat and fitted sheets inside of the pillowcases, but one stood out to me above all the others.  Fly Away Home shared a super-cool method for folding a complete set of sheets into one tidy little package.  I turned on a movie one evening and refolded ALL my sheets.  It's SO EASY and the linen closet looks amazing.  Bonus:  the sheets take up a lot less space this way for some reason so we have a lot more room in the closet, too.  After folding 10 sets of sheets in one evening I had the routine down and tweeked a couple of the steps just a smidge.  Here's how you do it:

Step 1:  Fold your flat sheet in half {top to bottom}then fold it in half again.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Then fold it in half one more time till you have a long, narrow rectangle.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Step 2:  Fold your fitted sheet in half, tucking the corners inside of each other.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Fold in half twice more until it is about the same width as the flat sheet.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Step 3:  Fold your pillowcase in half the long way and stack your 3 pieces {or 4 if it's not a twin set} on top of each other with the flat sheet on the bottom.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Step 4:  Beginn folding in from each end, making approximately 9-inch folds until you meet in the center.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Make one more fold {in half} so you have a pretty little bundle.

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
Mind. Blown.  Stack them up on the shelf in your linen closet and enjoy the beautiful view!

The Life-Changing Solution for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet at /
So . . . I would absolutely love it if all my sheets were crisp and white and lovely {lavender scented, of course}instead of being a million different patterns and textures, but that sweet stack there makes my heart go pitter-pat just a little bit anyway.  If you want some serious bang for your buck, this is the most dramatic change you can make in your linen closet.  All it will cost you is a little time.  Love it!  Am I crazy for loving a well folded set of sheets so much? 


Grands! Pizza Bake
{Super Easy Weeknight Dinner Idea}

Well, we have officially been back to school for a month now.  Does the after school/evening routine ever get any easier?!  I feel really lucky to have my husband home right now to help out with all the homework and library trips and lessons and play dates and inevitable errands to run.  I have always had to do all those things by myself before AND try to have a clean house and a hot meal on the table at a reasonable hour.  It can get exhausting!

That's why I try in every way possible to simplify meal preparation.  I like to plan my meals out for each week and write it on our big family calendar.  This keeps the kids {who always want to know "what's for dinner"}happy and keeps me organized.  I am less likely to run pick up fast food on the way home from voice lessons if I already have a plan for when I get home.  I also like to do as much of the prep work for dinner as I can ahead of time.  My mid-mornings are usually pretty quiet around here so I find that is a good time to get my brain around what I'm doing for dinner.  I take the meat out of the freezer and do any vegetable-chopping that can be done in advance.  If I'm preparing a casserole it's really helpful if I can assemble it in the morning and keep it in the refrigerator all day so all I have to do in the evening is pop it in the oven.  Sometimes, when my family gets really lucky, I even use that free time start a batch of fresh bread or rolls.  That is something  I NEVER have time for if I wait until 5:00 to start thinking about what we're going to eat that night.

I also have a great arsenal of go-to weeknight recipes that I can whip up in about 30 minutes and that are guaranteed crowd pleasers.  I've shared many of them with y'all here on the blog.  Today I want to share one of my newest favorite dinners -- Grands! Pizza Bake, made with delicious Pillsbury Grands! biscuits.

Super easy weeknight dinner idea: Grands! Pizza Bake recipe at /
We made one batch following the {super tasty} original Grands! Pepperoni Pizza Bake recipe found on Pillsbury's website, but then we also made a second batch and decided to get a little funky with it.  Do you ever have a night where you are just craving a super delicious, deep dish supreme pizza?  Yeah.  I do.  I did. The night I decided to make this recipe.  So our second batch was Ultimate Supreme Pizza Bake and it was to-die-for-delicious.

We followed the same basic recipe as the Grands! Pepperoni Pizza Bake, but we also browned up about a pound of sweet italian sausage with some diced green peppers and threw those in the baking dish, too.

Yep, we just loaded that good stuff right on top of the Grands! biscuit pieces, sauce and pepperoni in the baking dish. We thought we might as well add a few sliced olives, mushrooms, and green onions as well.  As long as we were gettin' funky, you know. Here's what will come out of  your oven after about 20 minutes:

Super easy weeknight dinner idea: Grands! Pizza Bake recipe at /

Super easy weeknight dinner idea: Grands! Pizza Bake recipe at /

Yummy, cheesy, deep-dish perfection.  It was every bit as satisfying as if it had been delivered from some pizza joint.  Maybe more so.  My kids said the pepperoni one was yummy, but I'll be honest, I didn't even try it.  I'm an ultimate supreme girl through-and-through and that one was heavenly.  It only took about 10 minutes of prep time and 20-ish minutes in the oven.  I tossed a big green salad while it was baking to round out the meal and, boom, 30 minute dinner!

You guys!  I started looking around Pillsbury's website and they have a ton of yummy recipes like this that can help you be the star at your family dinner table.  You can even download this recipe book for easy reference.  Which Grands! recipe are you excited to try?  I think Grands! Taco Melts are going to show up on my table in the very near future . . .

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of General Mills. Compensation was provided by General Mills via Clever Girls Collective.


A Few Things . . .

Gah!!!!  We have been without internet at home for the past few days and it is so unbelievably frustrating.  My daughter says we're living like cave men.  Now, that's not at all true, but it's a little humbling to not have the whole world at your fingertips when you get used to having that.  We should have it back, "Sometime this week.  Maybe."  This blows.  There's nothing like blogging at the public library.

I just wanted to let y'all know I have not forgotten about the Diamond Candle giveaway.  It ended on Monday and I will announce the winner as soon as I hear back from the sponsor.  I can't wait for one of you to get your candle and see just how awesome they are!!  Everyone who comes in my house lately says, "Your house smells like candy.  I love it!"  That's my Pomegranate Lemonade candle at work and I love it, too.

In other exciting news, this little blog of mine has been chosen as one of the Top 50 DIY and Craft Blogs by  I look at the list and I can't hardly believe that I am listed amongst such other awesome bloggers.  There's some special recognition for those who end up in the top ten after voting closes, so if you feel like it you can go cast a vote, but it is truly an honor just to be on the list.

Also, thanks for the kind responses to my recent post about unemployment.  You guys are the best blog friends ever. 

Hopefully we'll be back up and running at full speed soon.  Have a great day!


Turtle Brownies

Delicious Turtle Brownies recipe at /

Recently my daughter has taken pity on me {and my disorganized kitchen ways} and has taken it upon herself to type up ALL my recipes and make an organized, easy to use recipe book for me.  All those scraps of paper where I scribbled recipes I found on line.  All those food-stained print-outs and torn magazine pages.  The yellowing recipes cards I took with me to college -- those, too.  She is putting it all into order for me.  In one book from which I can actually create amazing meals and treats.  She is my sunshine.

As we were going through all my junk, deciding which recipes were book-worthy, we came across this recipe for Turtle Brownies.  Oh. My. Yumminess!  This was one of the ancient recipe cards from my BYU coed days.  I made them often-ish when I was my daughter's age living at home, but it has probably been 20 years or so since I last cheffed them up.  What a shame. 

Delicious Turtle Brownies recipe at /

Can you see in the picture how gooey and yummy they are?  See the pockets of caramel tucked into the dreamy fudgy brownies?  The chunks of pecans?  The melted chocolate chips?  See how I gained ten pounds just thinking about them?  They's nummy! 

Turtle Brownies

1 (14 oz.) pkg. Kraft caramels, unwrapped
1 German chocolate cake mix
1 C. chopped pecans
2/3 C. evaporated milk
3/4 C. butter
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

Combine caramels and 1/3 C. evaporated milk in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until caramels are melted.

Combine cake mix, butter and remaining 1/3 C. evaporated milk with a mixer just until mixture holds together.  It will be crumbly.  Press half of the cake mixture into a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350* for 6 minutes.

Remove brownie "crust" from oven.  Pour melted caramel over.  Sprinkle on chocolate chips and nuts.  Crumble remaining cake mixture on top.  Bake 15-18 minutes more.  Cool and cut into bars.

Delicious Turtle Brownies recipe at /

Enjoy, friends!


On Unemployment

Hey, friends!  It's been a while since I wrote something on the blog just to write, so I'm seizing the opportunity tonight.  I'll not be offended if you don't stick around now that you see I'm not sharing a fun craft or recipe.  I know that's what most of you come here for and I'm more than thrilled about that.  I've just been having a few thoughts lately based on our current situation that I wanted to share.

I don't really share a ton of personal stuff here on the blog, but many of you know that my husband has been working contract jobs for the past few years.  That means he'll work for a predetermined number of months and then be out of work while he looks for another contract.  It's not ideal, but it seems to be the way his industry has decided to do things.  Usually he has found a new contract position within a month -- that we kind of plan for.  The longest it has ever been before was 3 months.  That was a struggle {emotionally as much as anything}, but in this economy, not a surprise.  This time he has now been out of work for 6 months.  You read that right.  Half a year, my friends, we have been without income.  If 3 months was a struggle emotionally, 6 months has pretty much ripped us to shreds and left us in a pile on the floor.  I have been thinking a lot about it -- how can you not?! -- and come to realize that I have a real hate/love relationship with our unemployment.  I say hate first because 90% of me absolutely hates everything about it, but I can't help but see some blessings in there as well.

For instance, I HATE accepting help from people.  I hate being the "charity case".  I hate people giving us things.  I hate living off of the kindness of our friends and family.  But I LOVE seeing first hand all the good that people do, for which they want absolutely no recognition.  I think I always knew good things were happening behind the scenes of life, but I've never really been on the receiving end of it until now.  Often -- at least often enough -- people will slip us a check to "help hold us over" and in the same breath say, "PLEASE, please don't tell anyone about this."  I mean, who does that?!  Good, good people.  People who live pretty humbly themselves or who have been in similar circumstances so they can feel our pain.  It makes me want desperately to use our extra money better to help others in the future.

I HATE that Brent will probably have to work well into his 80's to make up for this time financially.  He is effectually "taking his retirement" now and, barring some miracle, will be paying for it for years to come.  But selfishly I LOVE having him around to help with the kids.  We split the before school routine so we can both get a little more sleep.  We split the homework duty.  We even split the housework, and, if I'm being honest, he's doing more than me some days.  I love having someone to eat lunch with and someone to make fun of the Kardashians with .  We probably watch too much TV these days.

I HATE not being able to give my kids every single thing in the whole wide world.  I hate that we haven't really been able to take a vacation in years.  I hate that they are hesitant to tell us when their jeans are getting too tight or when they need new socks.  I hate that we couldn't go buy them new school clothes this year.  I hate that they don't even tell us about extracurricular activities at school that interest them because they just know we can't afford it.  But I LOVE seeing how little it takes to make them truly happy.  They don't need extravagant vacations or nice clothes.  All they really want is time with us.  And sugar cereal.  {If you saw the way my children were carrying on, you would have though I found a cure for cancer a couple weeks ago when I used coupons to get 20 boxes of delicious cereal for less than $10.}

I HATE the doubt that creeps in.  When well-meaning friends and family question all of your decisions and then you start to think that maybe you aren't really on the right track even though you were pretty sure you were.  Even though you KNOW that you are.  Even though you've prayed and prayed about it until you have bruises on your kneecaps from kneeling so long and then you've prayed about it again.  And you know -- YOU KNOW -- that this is where you belong and you're doing everything right and things will come together soon and you need to hang in there.  Still it causes you to doubt.  But I LOVE those moments when YOU DO KNOW.  They are fleeting, but they're real enough to hang onto even in the face of doubters.  I have felt more love from my Heavenly Father on my darkest days than on my good ones -- because I needed it more then.

I HATE not being in control.  I hate watching Brent have fantastic interview after fantastic interview and getting so excited that this job is finally going to be the job, only to get one rejection email after the next.  How can so many employers be "going in a different direction"?!  Sooner or later won't all the different directions be taken and someone will have to go in our direction by default?  I mean, please, already.  I hate that we can do and do and do, and yet we can never do everything.  I hate the fear of losing our home -- of losing everything.  But I LOVE that my husband and I were both raised with the understanding that God, our Heavenly Father, is intimately involved in the details of our lives.  Ultimately it's Him in control of the situation.  Not us, not our parents, not the employers, not anyone else.  He is the one who takes us by the hand and pulls us through these times, sometimes kicking and screaming.  He is the one who has inspired people to give what extra they have to help us out -- usually within a few short hours of me praying for His immediate help because I didn't have anywhere else to turn.  He is the one in whom we trust, who will never fail us.  Even if we lose our house eventually.  Even if we "lose everything" by worldly standards.  Through Him, and in Him, we have everything that is really important.

I could go on and on.  Believe me, there are a bunch more things I hate about being unemployed.  We just have to keep telling ourselves, "This, too shall pass."  This has been a slow and painful refining process.  We are so grateful to everyone who has stood by us.  We can see clearly that our Heavenly Father has been putting people into our lives all along the way to support us now, at this time, and we feel blessed.

So, thanks.  If you made it through the whole post to get to this point, you are one of those people  {whether we know you personally or not}.  I know we are not the only people struggling in the world.  In fact, I know that we struggle a lot less than a lot of people.  To our fellow strugglers, I wish you the best.  Hang in there, my friends.  Because, really, this WILL pass.  It HAS to, right?!


Interchangeable Quote Boards

DIY Interchangeable Quote Boards at / Yesterday I shared my inspirational quote printables with you {and my opinion on teens and the internet, thankyouverymuch}.  Today I want to show you how I made the interchangeable hanging boards I used to display them.  It's a really quick and easy way to turn a $2 print into a stylish home accessory.

For each hanger you will need:

1 pine board 12-inches by 19-inches
distressing ink or stain
29-inches of wide grosgrain ribbon
1/2-inch drill bit
2 small nails
2 binder clips

Total Cost for each hanger:

$6-7.  I already had ribbon, paint, and the basic supplies on hand so mine were about $5 each.

A note about the wood boards:  I was making 3 hangers so I purchased a 12-inch by 72-inch piece of wood at Lowe's for less than $12 and had them cut it into 3 19-inch long pieces for me in the store.  They were happy to do it and it didn't cost any extra.

Begin by painting your boards.  I had some latex paint leftover from a decorating project so I used that, but acrylic craft paint would also do the trick.  I think I painted on about 3 coats to get good coverage then I distressed the edges with sandpaper when it was dry.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
I wasn't super-happy with it since the light pine wood didn't contrast much with my white paint.  No problem!  I just pulled out my dark walnut distress ink pad and ran it along all the edges then buffed it in with a soft rag.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
So much better!  Next I drilled two holes in the top of each board for the ribbon.  Measure 3-inches in from each side and 1-inch down from the top to mark the spot for each drill hole.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
Drill each hole with a 1/2-inch drill bit.  To create the ribbon loop for hanging, feed the ends of your ribbon through the holes from the back of the board to the front, leaving a loop in the back that measures 4-inches at its highest point.  {This ensures that all your boards will hang evenly when you put them on the wall.}  Tie the ends of your ribbon into a knot between the two holes on the front of your board.  Trim the ends of the ribbon, if needed.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
To attach the prints to the hangers:  Hammer a tiny little nail into the top of your board on each side of the ribbon, about 1/2-inch down from the top of the board.  Attach 2 binder clips to the top of each print.  Flip the back "arm" of the binder clip up on each side and hang from the small nails on the board.  Adjust the print so it hangs straight and is centered on the board.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
This is why I would use cardstock for prints in the future.  See how the paper doesn't hang perfectly flat because there is no weight to it?  Cardstock would solve that problem.  Other than that little flaw, I am IN LOVE with my new Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards!

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
My family likes them, too.  I always worry about getting the hubs on board with my "cute" ideas  {cute meaning anything that involves ribbon pretty much} , but he is a fan this time around.  

I'm thinking that we can change out the prints in the hangers as often as we want -- when we I get tired of looking at them, or to decorate for holidays.  For my minimal $15 initial investment I can have new artwork at the drop of a hat for years to come!  Not too shabby, right?!  Watch for plenty more 11x17 printables here on the blog so you can switch yours out, too!


Free Printables: Inspirational Quotes

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
Hi there, friends!  I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day weekend.  It looked like our pool party was going to be rained out for a few minutes, but the storm blew over quickly and the kiddos were able to celebrate the end of summer in grand style . . . Even though they've been in school and summer has more-or-less been over for a month, just sayin'.  

Before we get to the fun printables I want to share with y'all today, I'm going to share my thoughts that inspired them.  I'm just going to pull out my soapbox for a minute, OK?  I have come to the shocking realization lately that I don't really have little kids anymore.  My two oldest are teenagers {Heaven help us!} and my "baby" is right on their heels.  They spend a fair amount of time on the internet checking in on Facebook, watching Netflix, and playing games with their friends.  I feel like we have done a pretty good job teaching our kids how to conduct themselves with integrity and dignity in virtual social situations as well as real-life.  To be honest, they're just naturally REALLY good kids, but I'm not ignorant to what teenagers do {or are tempted to do} with the modern technology to which they have such ready access.  

Our computer work area is right out in the open.  If I sit in the corner seat of our sofa I can read right over my kids' shoulders and see exactly what they're doing on there, and they KNOW that I DO.  It's how we roll up in here.  No privacy on the internet.  That goes for Brent and myself as well.  The internet isn't a "private" place so you don't need privacy to create anything you're putting out there.  That is all.  

*stepping down off of soapbox*

Whew!  Thanks for listening to that. I found a few quotes lately that epitomize what I want my kids to remember in every single social situation they encounter -- every time they leave our house to go to school, or to a friends house, or log onto a social media channel, or talk on the telephone, or send an email, or a text, anytime, anywhere.  I thought it would be a helpful, friendly reminder if I typed them up and put them next to our computer work area so the kids couldn't help but see them.  All. The. Time.

Here are the printable quotes:

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Printables at /

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Printables at /

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Printables at /

If you would like to download and use these designs for your personal use:  

Simply hold the CTRL button down while clicking on the image to open it in a new window.  In the new window, make sure it is full size by clicking on the image then right click and save it to your computer.  These files are an odd size -- 11x17 -- and can be printed by uploading the files to Staples Copy & Print Center website and choosing a full-color 11x17 cardstock print for less than $2.  {I didn't use cardstock for my prints you'll see in the images in this post and I wish I had.  Next time I'll fork out the little bit of extra money for sure.}

You could stop here and just tape your mini-posters to the wall or stick them to the fridge with magnets or whatever.  I wanted to create some hangers for them so that they could easily be changed out when I find some new inspiration in the future.   See how I made my hanging boards in this post.

Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards at /
I am IN LOVE with how my new Inspirational {Interchangeable} Quote Boards turned out! The kids have each said {at different times, about one or the other of the quotes}, "You know mom, that's really true."  I smile and nod, like I'm some kinda' brilliant.  Then I say a prayer of gratitude because I know if they weren't really good kids to begin with, a couple of posters by the computer wouldn't really make any difference after all.  

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?  Leave a comment and share with the rest of us if you do!


The "Everything" Brunch Sandwich
{Starring Farmland Bacon!}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Farmland but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #porkinapinch

The "Everything" Brunch Sandwich recipe at /
Here's an odd fact about our family:  we have a slight obsession with poached eggs and bacon.  Love, love, love them.  However, I rarely cook breakfast.  In our house, poached eggs and toast is the epitome of the busy night, easy dinner, mom doesn't feel like cooking food.  Add bacon to the mix and you might think that Christmas had come early to see my kids' reaction.  I kid you not.

Sometimes, though, we want to get fancy with it.  That's when we break out our "Everything" Brunch Sandwiches -- for dinner, usually.  As the name implies, this sandwich has a little bit of something for everyone in the family: 

The "Everything" Brunch Sandwich recipe at /
Buttery toasted English muffins, creamy avocado, fresh tomato, runny poached egg, crispy Farmland bacon, and gooey melty cheese.  They're a complete disaster to eat -- for sure grab a napkin before digging in -- but you'll be in finger-licking heaven, I promise.  It's hard to believe that something so very yummy only takes about 20 minutes to throw together to feed my whole crew.

Bonus:  I feel like a good mom feeding my kids something healthy instead of hitting the fast food drive-thru window.  We've got some carbs in there for energy, balanced out by the protein in the bacon and the poached egg.  {Poaching doesn't add any fat!!}  There's a little veg with the tomato and some heart-healthy fat in the avocado.  If you were really wanting to be healthy you could replace the Farmland bacon with Farmland ham and leave off the cheese.   

{I was trying to get a picture of the bacon yumminess while shopping at my local Basha's grocery store without anybody looking at me funny -- mission NOT accomplished, by the way.}

To prepare your "Everything" Brunch Sandwiches in a snap, broil your bacon in the oven and start a pot of water heating on the stove top to poach the eggs.  In the meantime, toast the English muffins and butter them while they're still warm.  Slice the tomatoes and avocados while the muffins are toasting.  Once water comes to a boil, poach your eggs 2 or 3 at a time until you have enough for your family.  Once everything is ready, I set out the individual ingredients and let my family assemble their own sandwiches according to their individual preferences. 

The "Everything" Brunch Sandwich recipe at /
Bam!  Yummy dinner {or breakfast, brunch or lunch} in a matter of minutes.  What's your favorite quick and easy meal?  For plenty of other great 35 minute recipes, visit the Farmland website.  You can also find Farmland on Facebook and Pinterest.  You can find delicious Farmland products at Basha's grocery stores here in Arizona.

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Farmland but all my opinions are my own.


{Guest Posting!}

Fun news:  I am guest posting over at Today's Creative Blog!! 

I'm sharing all about how I made this Gilded Pinecone Wreath to transition my porch decor from summer to fall.  Hop on over and check it out.  Thanks, friends!

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