My 3 Monsters: October 2013

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10.29.2013

DIY Mike & Sully Hoodies
{#MonstersU}

Thanks to Disney's Monsters University and The Blueprint Social for sponsoring this post.

I mentioned yesterday that my kids like to have a "non-costume costume" that they can wear to school since they are not allowed to come to school costumed out on Halloween.  Usually that just means a tee shirt with skeleton bones printed on it or the ever-popular "This is my Costume" tee shirts.  This year I got a little more creative!


Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com
It's not a "costume", right?  It's just a jacket to protect my dear son from the cool morning air.  We have always been huge Monsters, Inc. fans so we were really excited about Monsters University this year.  Do you want to see the cutest thing ever?  My kids dressed up as Mike, Sully and Celia the Halloween after Monsters, Inc. came out:

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

I couldn't find the digital copy of that photo after our hard drive meltdown so I had to snag the only picture I could find from one of my kids' scrapbooks and scan it in.  It's not great quality and you can't see our friends' daughter who was Boo, but you get the idea.  It seemed fitting that the boys should reprise their roles this year.

Easy Monsters University Hoddies at my3monsters.com
Yeah.  My youngest doesn't smile in pictures.  He never has.  Weird.  Don't let his expression fool you -- he LOVES that hoodie.  It's hard to get him to take it off.  Sydney was a little jealous to be left out of this year's group costume, but her brothers kindly let her borrow theirs for her Disneyland trip with her friends over fall break.  These hoodies were a huge hit in the park and got the girls a lot of {much-appreciated} attention all day.

You guys!  You would not believe how easy these are to make!  I picked up the solid color hoodies at Wal Mart for about $11 each.  The turquoise was perfect, but they didn't have green so we just bought a white one and dyed it with Apple Green fabric dye.

For the Mike Hoodie:

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

Cut circles out of felt to create the eye.  I traced a salad plate onto white felt for the biggest piece, a saucer onto blue felt for the iris, and a cup onto black felt for the pupil.  I cut the little white highlight out of white freehand.  Pin the pieces onto the front of the hoodie where you want them and then stitch around each circle, close to the edge to attach them.

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

Download the horn pattern at the end of this post and follow the instructions on the pattern piece to create two small horns out of white felt.  Pin them to the hood where you like them.  You may have to have your kid try it on at this point to determine the best place for the horns.  Stitch the horns on by hand and you're done!

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

 For the Sully Hoodie:

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

 Get about 1/3 of a yard of purple fleece and cut out circles of different sizes.  I used about 13 spots ranging in size from 3 to 5 inches across.  Pin the spots on the back, arms and hood randomly.  This would be another good time to try it on and make sure it looks good.  Once you have the layout all figured out, stitch around the edge of each spot with your sewing machine.  It's tricky to finagle the fabric and get the needle where you need it to be, especially on the sleeves, but it can be done.  Just go slow and be careful not to catch any extra fabric in there as you go. 

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com

Again, download the horn pattern at the bottom of this post and follow the instruction printed on it to create 2 larger horns.  Have your kiddo try the hoodie on again to get the right placement of the horns, pin them in place and sew them on by hand.

Celebrate #MonstersU with these DIY Mike and Sully Hoodies at my3monsters.com
His horns don't look like they're curved in that picture, but they do curve a little up and to the front, just like Sully's do.  There you have it!  Super easy "non-costume costumes" for your kids to wear to school on Halloween.  Or any day if your kids are a little weird like mine.

Horn Pattern Download


Monsters University is available on Blue-ray Combo Pack TODAY, October 29th!! How cool is that?!  Seriously, run out and get your copy today or pick up a copy online here.  We've seen it several times now as a family and we laugh all the way through every time.  Sometimes I think these Disney movies are more fun to watch now that our kids are older because they pick up on more of the nuances of humor in them.  Plus, I so enjoy watching a movie with my teenage kids that doesn't make me cringe at any point.  Don't miss out on this one!

Find Monsters University on Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest.  See how other creative people are celebrating the DVD release of this movie here:





This post is sponsored by Disney as a part of a Blueprint Social Campaign. I received product and compensation for sharing my experience with my own craft project and tutorial in my own words.  All opinions are 100% my own.

10.28.2013

Take Some Time Out for Yourself
with Easy Pain au Chocolat

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, PEOPLE Magazine & Hershey’s, but all my opinions are my own. #HersheysPeople #pmedia http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO


Before I begin, let me give you a sneak peek of what is coming later in this post to entice you read on:

Take a Mommy Time Out this week with PEOPLE Magazine and a little Pain au Chocolat made from Hershey's Kisses #HersheysPeople #PMedia #ad
Looks good, right?  Keep reading . . .

It's that time of year, folks.  We're headed into the busy, busy holiday season and, around here, it all begins with Halloween.  I confess, I am an over-do-er mommy when it comes to Halloween.  It's my own fault. I'm a costume snob, so I almost always insist on making my kiddos' costumes instead of buying them.  This year we made a Glinda costume and a demon scarecrow for my two oldest.  Dylan wanted to be, ummmmm,  a  . . . creepy guy?  In a black cloak.  The cloak was the important part. I broke down and borrowed a black cloak from my friend, Dee Ann, the costume queen, for him to wear because I couldn't find ours as we were scrambling to finish everything up for Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday since I refuse to buy a packaged costume.  In addition to their main costumes, my kids each want a non-costume costume to wear to school on Halloween since "costumes" are not really allowed.  {I'll share those with you tomorrow.}

Plus, my kids dress up, like, three times every year so I feel like we are always getting in and out of costumes for the week leading up to Halloween.  We go to Trunk or Treat, friends' parties, and church youth activities -- all before Halloween actually begins.  We also like to make cute little goodies for my kids to take to their friends and I make a fun Halloween-themed dinner before we head out Trick-or-Treating.  It gets a little crazy.  Seriously, so cray-cray.

But it's fun, too.  Sooo fun.  I'm not complaining, I promise.  I just make sure to take a time-out once in a while in the midst of all this madness so that I don't lose my cool and it stays fun for everyone. {My mom had a sign when we were kids that said, "When mama aint happy, aint nobody happy."  So true.}  I took a morning last week to just chill out and recharge my emotional battery.  It began with a trip to my favorite store {Target!} to pick up a few of my favorite things:

Take a Mommy Time Out this week with PEOPLE Magazine and a little Pain au Chocolat made from Hershey's Kisses #HersheysPeople #PMedia #ad

PEOPLE Magazine {for a healthy dose of celebrity "information"} and Hershey's chocolate {because, ummmm, chocolate}. 

I was giddy with excitement for the morning I had in store as I drove home.  I was planning to just eat a few of the Hershey's Kisses, and put the rest into a bowl for my Halloween display.   But then I had a stroke of genius that would class this shindig-for-one up a bit . . . I would use my Kisses to make Pain au Chocolat -- chocolate filled croissants.  Sometimes I am brilliant.

Take a Mommy Time Out this week with PEOPLE Magazine and a little Pain au Chocolat made from Hershey's Kisses #HersheysPeople #PMedia #ad

To make some Pain au Chocolat of your own:

Use a package of frozen puff pastry dough and follow the instruction to thaw it out. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Open up the sheets of dough flat and cut them each into three rectangles following the fold lines in the dough.  Then cut each rectangle diagonally to make two long triangles.  Unwrap two Hershey's Kisses for each triangle of dough.  Place the Kisses at the wide end of the triangle and roll toward the point, creating a croissant shape.  Place the croissants on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until dough has puffed up and is golden brown.

I took those piping hot croissants out of the oven, made a cup of hot chocolate, and sat down with my feet up to enjoy my PEOPLE Magazine.

Take a Mommy Time Out this week with PEOPLE Magazine and a little Pain au Chocolat made from Hershey's Kisses #HersheysPeople #PMedia #ad
I was in absolute heaven for the next hour or so as I read all about Meg Ryan's surprising new life and saw who wore what where.  I was one happy, relaxed mama when my family came home.  Plus, they were happy, too, because there was delicious Pain au Chocolat for them to snack on.  Even better, there is a great coupon I used at Target to save $2 on PEOPLE Magazine and Hershey's Dish Candy {like Kisses or Miniatures}.  Win-win-win!  Best day evah!

Listen, I know I'm not the only over-do-er mommy out there.  Things can get busy, and a little stressful, when you are trying to give your family the best of everything.  But they want the best of YOU, too, so you need to take some time out once in a while.  Especially during busy times like this Halloween week!  I'm telling you--hurry and print this coupon while supplies last, go get your PEOPLE Magazine and bag of Hershey's Dish Candy, and thank me later.  You know you want some of that melty chocolate goodness . . .

Take a Mommy Time Out this week with PEOPLE Magazine and a little Pain au Chocolat made from Hershey's Kisses #HersheysPeople #PMedia #ad
{This is a sponsored post.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own.}

10.26.2013

German Pancakes

Easy German Pancake Recipe at my3monsters.com
One of our favorite breakfast treats is German Pancakes.  My kids would probably eat them every day if they could.  I'm not one of those awesome moms who cooks breakfast every day {like my sister}, but sometimes on the weekend we like to have something yummy.  For brunch. After we've all slept in a little bit.  German Pancakes are perfect for that.  They're my favorite low-effort, high-reward recipe.  Plus, we almost always have everything we need right in the pantry.

When I make this for the whole family I make two recipes -- two big 9x13 pans of goodness.  They're thin so you need to make more than you might think.  But sometimes, after my kids have gone to school and I'm all by myself in the house, I like to make just a half of a recipe and cook it up in my little Le Creuset skillet {that I found for $2 at the thrift store -- don't hate me for being in the right place at the right time, fellow thrifters}.  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and sprinkle with powder sugar and it's the perfect little brunch for one.  OK, I'd have to be famished to eat the whole pan by myself -- it would be the perfect size to share with a friend.  Or to eat the other half for a quick snack before the kids get home from school. 

Because they CANNOT KNOW you made it without them or you'll be in BIG trouble, do you hear me?!

German Pancakes

1 C. flour
1 C. milk
6 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a small mixing bowl with a whisk.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Drizzle melted butter over the top of batter in the pan.  DO NOT MIX!  Bake for 25 minutes, until edges have puffed up and it looks nice and golden brown.
Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruit, or {my favorite} fresh lemon and powdered sugar.
Easy German Pancake Recipe at my3monsters.com
They turn out perfectly eggy, buttery, and yummy every time.  It's a most perfect breakfast treat for any time of year.  {Remember, to make it in a little cast iron skillet like this you'll need to cut the recipe in half.}  Enjoy!

Easy German Pancake Recipe at my3monsters.com

10.25.2013

That Time We Were Orkin EEKologists

This post brought to you by The Orkin Ecologist. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi, friends!  Many of you who know me in real life know that I'm kind of a nerd.  {Maybe that shows through my writing, too, so you all realize that . . .}  I LOVE watching documentaries.  They're my movies-of-choice, way above chick flicks.  I also love a good research project.  The thrill of learning something new never gets old for me.  {See.  Nerdy.}  I guess I have worn off on my kids a little bit, because guess what Dylan and I did over fall break?  We researched bugs.  Yep.  We found the coolest website, The Orkin Ecologist, where you will find all kinds of awesome information about creepy crawly things.  Not just the common things that you might call Orkin to get rid of, oh no!  Gigantic, disgusting, fascinating types of bugs you have never even heard of.  Beautiful photography of these . . . gross little {and not so little} things. 

Our look at The Orkin Ecologist lead to an entire afternoon of watching bug videos.  Once we had exhausted all the info on that site, Dylan found a bunch more via YouTube.  It was so fun for me to see my kid get excited about something other than Minecraft for once.  After all that we saw and read, neither of us could get one creature in particular out of our heads -- The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider.  It just-so happens to be the featured bug of the month on The Orkin Ecologist website.  It's a disgusting, hairy, enormous tarantula.  I mean, hello, a spider big enough to eat a bird?!  SICK!!!!

We decided that we wanted to create a life-size {or close to it} replica and then compare it to another type of spider for our EEKology project.  Because, surprisingly, looks are deceiving.  This "Goliath" spider is actually way less dangerous than some other spiders -- like a Black Widow, for instance.  After a trip to the fabric store for supplies, here's what we came up with:

Awesome!!!  Dylan was super helpful, picking out just the right fur and finding those cool buttons we used for the eyes.  I love that kid!  Anyone who can get excited about doing a science project while they're on break from school is A-OK in my book.  While I was sewing the spider, he was researching the bugs, finding all the cool differences and similarities between the two.  He typed it all up and then we created a display board to share with the rest of the family in a game-like format.

You can lift up each flap with a question on it to find out which spider wins that category and why.  Some of the things he found out were really interesting.

For instance, you might be surprised to find out that neither spider wants to bite you.  Both bite only in self-defense, but if you do get bitten it's not the Goliath Bird-Eater you need to worry about.  Despite its inch-long fangs, its venom is not life threatening to humans and its bite is comparable to a wasp's sting.  The Black Widow, however, has venom 15 times more toxic than a rattlesnake.  Yikes! 

On looks alone, I'd say the Goliath Bird-Eater is scarier.  It can grow to be almost 12 inches across.  That's about the size of a dinner plate!  And it's covered in hair.  And it can rub its legs together like a cricket to hiss when it feels threatened.  You can hear the hiss from up to 15 feet away.  Luckily, you'll probably never meet one around here.  They live in underground burrows in the rainforests of South America.

The Black Widow is actually the spider you should be more afraid of.  They live in North America -- which means there could be one in your house right now!!  Don't worry, though.  They typically eat small insects that get trapped in their sticky webs.  Ok, maybe male Black Widows should worry a little bit -- often the females will eat the males after mating.  Gag!

See, I told you I'm nerdy.  I love this stuff.  Just one more fun fact:  The Bird-Eating Spider is a bit of a misnomer.  While they may dine on birds from time to time, they typically eat large insects, small rodents, frogs and lizards.  That's so much better, right?

Dylan and I had so much fun working on this project together maybe we'll pick another one for Winter Break in a couple months.  Hee took his EEKology display and {almost kinda' accurately} life-sized spiders into school to share with his 6th grade science class for extra credit.  Sometimes being a little nerdy pays off!

Check outThe Orkin Ecologist website and let me know what you think.  It's a great resource for kids and adults alike.  Have fun, guys . . .  

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10.23.2013

Lace Calavera Pillow Covers

Hey guys!  I promised to share another quick, fun decorating project with you that you can still whip up in plenty of time for Halloween.  I found this AWESOME idea from Debi's Design Diary on Pinterest last night and new I HAD to make my own.  I love all things Dia de los Muertos and have been wanting to incorporate more of that style into my Halloween decor.  I dug out every scrap of lace I have in my collection and set to work.

Dia de los Muertos Lace Calavera Pillow Covers at my3monsters.com

This project is pretty much a no-brainer.  Just cut your lace apart, following the natural shapes in the designs, and piece them all together until you like the way they look.  Watch Debi's fun video if you want to see how she does it.  She also offers a template so you can get the skull shape just right.  I didn't use it, but I'm thinking maybe I should have.  I'll probably go back and add a little more around the top edge of the skull to give it a better shape{like Debi's -- seriously, hers is perfect!}, but other than that I love it.  The style is vintage-y and pretty, which I much prefer to gory and creepy.
 
Dia de los Muertos Lace Calavera Pillow Covers at my3monsters.com

I used more of my natural colored drop cloth fabric and sewed up a quick envelope-back pillow cover after I created my design on the front piece.  The sewing itself only took about 20 minutes.  I played with the lace for a long time so that I thought they looked good. 
 
Lace Calavera Pillow Covers

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite style for Halloween decorating?  These pillows will likely be my favorite Halloween decorations for years to come.  Hope you have a great day guys!

10.22.2013

Spider Web Pillow Covers

Hello, friends!  I wanted to share a really fun Halloween decor project that is fast and easy.  I'm late in getting out my Halloween decorations this year, but I still wanted to put a few things out before it's too late.  When I got out my boxes I found the spider web pillow cover I made for my front porch last year. I loved it so much I wanted to make a couple more in colors that match my living room this time. 


I had some leftover drop cloth fabric from when I made my couch slipcovers so I decided to use black thread and keep the pillow covers mostly neutral this time around.  That way they'll match no matter what colors I use in the future {since I like to switch things up a lot}.
 
I'm not going to write up a formal tutorial since they're pretty much self-explanatory.  I didn't draw anything out or plan it in any way before I got started.  It's just like drawing using thread instead of a pencil.  First I cut a piece of drop cloth big enough for the front of my pillow cover {plus a little extra for seam allowances}.  I roughly estimated where the center point of the fabric was and began sewing a spiral by turning the fabric as I sewed it.  Once I had gone around about 7 times I felt like I had a decent sized spider web. Stop when you're about 3-4 inches away from each edge of your fabric.
 
Next, I sewed straight lines across the spiral at varying angles.  I sewed straight across the center of the spiral first, then put my needle down in the fabric, lifted the presser foot on my machine, turned the fabric to a different angle, lowered the presser foot, and took off sewing again in that new direction.  It's completely random and willy-nilly so you can't go wrong.  Once I had enough lines crossing my spiral, I switched to a zig zag stitch and added a few little spots of zig-zagginess to add some interest.
 
 Spider Web Pillow Covers at my3monsters.com
 
I created a spider on the web using buttons and embroidery floss.  I used a fabric covered button kit and a couple small scraps of fabric to create the body of each spider and used a smaller black button for the head.  Using all six strands of my piece of embroidery floss I sewed on the legs -- again, completely random.
 
To finish my pillow cover I cut another piece of drop cloth for the back, added a roughly pleated ruffle around the edge, and sewed the whole thing together with a zipper across the bottom.  {Here's a really good tutorial on Design Sponge for sewing a zippered pillow cover if you want better instructions.  You could also make an envelope pillow cover or use any method you're comfortable with.} 
 
 Spider Web Pillow Covers at my3monsters.com
 
That's it, guys.  Super easy.  I made both of these covers in just a couple of hours this afternoon with  a few supplies I already had on hand.  I love the subtle, kinda' pretty Halloween touch they add to my gray couches.  Come back tomorrow and I'll share a couple other quick and easy Halloween decorating ideas {for those of you who, like me, are running a little behind this year}!  Have a great day everyone!
 

10.21.2013

Pumpkin Carving and a Giveaway
{With Pumpkin Masters Tools!}



Good Monday morning, friends!  We took some family time over the weekend using these awesome patterns and tools from Pumpkin Masters to carve pumpkins for our Halloween porch. 


We have long been fan of Pumpkin Masters carving tools.  I remember finding them for the first time when my kids were little.  I LOVED their little serrated carvers that cut through pumpkin "like buttah", but won't cut delicate little kid fingers.  What kind of withcraft is that?!  I mean, really.  And how -- HOW -- did we ever get the guts out before those scrapers that come in these kits?!  You can not only remove every last string of seedy gooiness, but you can also thin out the walls of the pumpkin which makes the carving that much easier.  Brilliant.
 
I was thrilled when we received this amazing package of pumpkin carving goodness in the mail the other day to show y'all.  Can you see that razor-like tool in the middle there?  It shaves off the thick skin of the pumpkin without cutting all the way through the flesh for a cool glowy effect.  I also thought the decorative punches looked fun for making geometric and leafy designs.  My kids?  They just wanted to stick with the basics, choosing patterns out of the books and carving them with the more traditional tools.  I guess that's OK, too.  {I'll just have to go get my own pumpkin to play around with this week . . .}
 
It was super fun to watch my kids each take their own approach to carving this year.  Sydney, my oldest, is meticulous.  She took FOREVER getting her pattern just right.  Riley, my middle kiddo, was in and out of there in a flash, but kept coming back to "develop his character" in the video.  {He's my goof-ball.}  Dylan, my youngest, was surprisingly serious throughout the whole process.  This was all business to him.  I'll let them show you how well these tools work:



Poor Sydney was so sick when she was working on that pumpkin, but she pushed through it.  For TWO.  HOURS.  But it was worth it in the end.  Look at how good their pumpkins turned out:

 photo PumpkinMastersRileywithbokeh_zps535bb1e5.jpg

 photo PumpkinMastersSisandDwithbokeh_zpsa623beb3.jpg

My boys thought the strobe lights that came in the Pumpkin Masters package were the coolest.  It really does up the spook factor of these already awesome designs. 

Do you think you might be a Pumpkin Master, too?  If you are, there are big prizes to be had!  Pumpkin Masters is searching for carving talent as part of its annual Pumpkin Masters Carving Contest.  Share a pic of your carving via Instagram or Twitter with #PumpkinMasters2013, submit via the Facebook app or send via email to: social@pumpkinmasters.com to enter for the chance to win one of six prizes, including $5,000 for the Best Pumpkin.  Contest runs from October 1 - 31, 2013.  Contest details and official rules can be found here.

Pumpkin Masters is available at your local grocery, drug, or craft store, and nationally at Target and Walmart. BUT, today we're going to be hosting the fastest giveaway ever here on the blog.  If you want to win a box full of Pumpkin Masters goodies just like we received {valued at over $35!} just leave a comment on this post telling me which tool you are most excited to try.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.  Entries close at 11:59 p.m. PT TONIGHT, October 21st, 2013.  A winner will be chosen by random.org and announced tomorrow morning. Please leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win.  Sorry for the quick turnaround time on this one -- we want to make sure you'll have your tools in time to carve your own pumpkins!!  Good luck, guys!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

10.20.2013

Birthday Lunch at Arby's {So yummy!!}

This post brought to you by Arby's. All opinions are 100% mine.
Hi all!  Remember how my birthday was a couple days ago?  Yeah?  Well, here's one {delicious!} way that I celebrated:

Arby's new Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich for lunch -- with a side of curly fries, of course.  Sometimes a girl just wants what she wants!!  I have long been a fan of Arby's.  I always get the exact same thing when I go -- classic roast beef sandwich with curly fries and a hearty helping of Arby's Sauce {for the sandwich AND the fries}.  It's just sooo yummy and I know I'll never be disappointed with it.
But then I saw it.  The Smokehouse Brisket.  Um, hello . . . tender brisket smoked for 13 hours piled high on a toasted bun with smoked gouda cheese {are you kidding me?}, crispy onions, BBQ sauce and mayo?  Yeah, I think I could eat that.  Watch this and tell me you're not drooling:

So I made my man take me there to get one.  Because he's a gentleman, he got the regular roast beef so we could trade, just in case it wasn't the little slice of heaven I was hoping for.  He's a keeper.  But you guys!  I ate every last crumb of it.  No joke.  It was that good.  The smokey flavor was distinct, but not overwhelming and the crispy onions were awesome.  It's perfect as-is.  No need to add any additional sauce or anything.  It reminded me of the brisket sandwich that I LOVE at the high-end sandwich shop we sometimes go to.  Seriously, so good!

This is not your typical fast food, I promise.  I mean, it's fast, yes, but so far from your average greasy burger it's not even funny.  Like I said, think high-end sandwich shop here.  Definitely date-worthy -- at least for us married 17+-ers.  Find an Arby’s near you and try it today!  So tell me . . .do you love Arby's?  Will you branch out and try the Smokehouse Brisket, or do you always get the same thing?  I'm curious . . .
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10.19.2013

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Hello, my dear blog friends!  Yesterday was my 40th birthday -- I know the calendar says I'm getting older, but I don't feel a day over 20, I swear!  Everyone says your body starts to break down once you hit 40.  I still feel fantastic.  My computer, however, is struggling.  In honor of my 40th birthday it decided to have a major hard drive meltdown, taking all my in-progress blog projects photos with it.  Luckily, I had moved almost everything over to our external hard drive so we didn't lose any priceless family photos.  {Happy birthday to me!} The only photos we had on our hard drive were the project photos I was working on editing to share with y'all.

*sigh*

It's going to take me a while to recreate those things and have them ready to share.  My apologies, friends, if the creativity is a little sparse around here over the next couple of weeks as I re-create some things. 

Other than the computer meltdown, I had an awesome day.  AND....................MY HUSBAND GOT A JOB!!!!!!!!  So, I really can't complain about something as silly as a computer crash right now.  We are so blessed.  Monday I'll be sharing some pumpkin carving ideas with you guys I'll be giving away some awesome pumpkin carving tools to get you ready to carve your own.  See you then!

10.16.2013

Delicious Smoked Sausage & Cheesy Potatoes

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Hillshire Brand Company but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #buy3save3  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO 


Smoked Sausage and Cheesy Potatoes recipe at my3monsters.com
Are you looking for a delicious, hearty meal for your family this week? Do you also want it to be super easy and budget friendly? Look no further, my friends! This is one of our family favorites. I break it out just as soon as the weather cools off and I can stand to turn the oven back on every fall . 

I remember eating this meal as a kid, so I love to sit down to family dinner and see my kids enjoy it, too. Yesterday was their first day back to school after fall break so I knew they would appreciate a "comfort meal" like this.

You should know by now that I am not a gourmet. I love meat and potatoes. I love warm and gooey. I love awesome flavor. I don't particularly care about how pretty a dish is. This dinner is the perfect example of all those things -- super delicious, but not necessarily photogenic. In fact, my kids laugh every time I bring it to the table. It's comically unappetizing in the pan . . . until you taste it. One bite and you'll be hooked. The smokey Hillshire Farm sausage goes so well with the creamy, cheesy potatoes. The best part is, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry!

Smoked Sausage and Cheesy Potatoes 

2 packages Hillshire Farm® Beef Rope Smoked Sausage
6-7 potatoes
1 stick butter
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 pint sour cream

Smoked Sausage and Cheesy Potatoes recipe at my3monsters.com

Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. {If you use smaller potatoes like I did, you may need to use a few more and only cut them in half.} Cover with water and boil until tender. Drain the hot water from cooked potatoes and dice them. Place in a 9x13 pan.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, condensed soup, and shredded cheese over medium heat until melted, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and green onion. {I omitted the green onion and used 1 tsp. onion powder instead since one of my kids has decided to not eat anything green.}  Pour cheesy mixture over diced potatoes and stir gently to combine.

Cut Smoked Sausage into 2-inch lengths and place in pan on top of cheesy potatoes. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until sausage is heated through and cheesy potatoes are bubbly. That's it!

Smoked Sausage and Cheesy Potatoes recipe at my3monsters.com
This week is a great time to make this yummy dinner for your family because Hillshire Farm has a great deal on their products Safeway until Saturday, 10/19/13. If you sign up for the Safeway "Just For U" program you can save $3 when you purchase 3 select Hillshire Farm products.

Smoked Sausage and Cheesy Potatoes recipe at my3monsters.com

If you want more options for delicious recipes for ANY meal, you can find them on the Hillshire Farm website. You can also find Hillshire Farm on Facebook and Twitter.

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Hillshire Brand Company but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #buy3save3  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO


10.10.2013

DIY Chalkboard
{from and old mirror!}

I found a great mirror at Goodwill a few weeks ago for about $6.00 and I just had to buy it.  I didn't really need a mirror, but it had the funnest arched top detail and I had an idea in the back of my mind . . . and for the price I couldn't pass it up.

I'm a big fan of chalk art and I have loved having a chalk wall in my kitchen.  I just can't help myself, even though it is getting to be over-done nowadays.   The chalk wall has served its purpose for the past two years and will soon be a thing of the past {along with the yellow paint we've had since we bought our home}as I make a few minor changes in our decor, but I still wanted to have a little bitta' chalkboard up in here.

And so my great big, super heavy vanity mirror underwent a major transformation.

DIY Chalkboard made from an old mirror at my3monsters.com

I failed to take any before pictures of this project, but you can imagine it, right?  Big mirror . . . honey oak frame . . . yeah?  OK.  Now, here's what I used to make the magic happen:


First, I sprayed the whole thing down with several coats of primer.  That is super important to make sure the paint will stick to the glass mirror.  I just took it outside and sprayed the whole thing, frame and all, until I couldn't see myself in the mirror anymore.

Next, when the primer was nice and dry I painted the frame with white satin finish paint that I had leftover from another project.  It took about 3 coats to cover the frame well.  I didn't bother masking off the area I was painting.  I was just careful not to get too much white paint on the glass. {But I did get some on there and it wasn't a big deal.}

Then, when the white paint had dried I painted the glass part with my chalkboard paint.  Again, I didn't mask anything off.  I just used a good edging brush and a steady hand.  If you feel like you might need to tape off the frame, wait at least 24 hours for the paint to cure and use the painter's tape for delicate surfaces to make sure you don't peel off the fresh paint on the frame.  I think I ended up painting on 5 thin coats of chalkboard paint so that I would have a good, thick layer.  Try not to leave any brush strokes so that you get a really smooth writing surface.

I waited overnight for the chalkboard paint to really set up before I primed the surface by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over the area and then erasing it.  Be careful as you're rubbing the chalk -- I made a couple scratches in the surface of the paint with the rough edges of the chalk.  You can't really see them unless you look close, but still.  Boo.

DIY Chalkboard made from an old mirror at my3monsters.com
I love my new, smaller chalk "wall".  It fits perfectly right on top of the dresser next to our front door so I can change it with the seasons.  And the super-smooth mirror underneath the paint makes an awesome writing surface.  It's so much nicer than my textured wall has been.  Mmmmmm . . . she makes me happy every time I walk past her.  {I'm not in love with the artwork yet, but the chalkboard? She's a keeper!}Sometimes a little change is all it takes to make you love your home all over again.

10.09.2013

{Super Easy} Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Super Easy Pumpkin Streusel {with a ton of variations} at my3monsters.com
I mentioned yesterday how much I LOVE fall baking.  I know that some people don't appreciate all things pumpkin like I do, but I think you'll still like this recipe -- or a variation of it.  Stay with me . . .

This is one of my favorite recipes because it is SOOOOO SIMPLE.  I mean, I know I've said that before because I don't make anything that is difficult, but this one takes the simplicity cake.  It's pretty much a no brainer.  PLUS there are so many variations you can create by adding yummy mix-ins and such.  First I'll share the basic recipe than I'll tell you how to shake it up if you are so inclined.

Super Easy Pumpkin Muffins

1 box spice cake mix
1 can (15-ish ounces) of pumpkin puree
That's it.

Mix the dry cake mix together with the canned pumpkin.  Scoop into lined muffin tins.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.  I mean, seriously.  That's it.

Because it's so easy, we like to add different things to make them extra good.  White chocolate chips are a favorite.  Or regular chocolate chips.  Just stir them right into the batter.  Nuts would be yummy.  Nuts AND chocolate chips.  Raisins.  Craisins.  Apple chunks.  You could make these muffins every morning for a week and never eat the same muffin twice!

For this particular batch I made a streusel topping  and it was probably my favorite version yet.

 

Streusel Topping

2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. cold butter

Combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle a little bit over each muffin before baking.

I need to sharpen my streusel skills, y'all.  I don't know how to make it without over-working the butter and ending up with a melty streusel coating instead of those perfect crumbles you're supposed to get.  It's still delicious, but it's not right and that bugs me. 

Now, for all you non-pumpkin people out there.  Another variation that we really love is chocolate muffins.  You still use a can of pumpkin, but you mix it with a chocolate cake mix {and chocolate chips and nuts, if you want}.  I promise you can't even taste the pumpkin.  You'll just end up with a perfectly moist, yummy chocolate  muffin that also happens to be low in fat {thank you, pumpkin}. 

So, what am I missing, friends?  What would you add to the basic pumpkin muffin recipe to make them extra yummy?

10.08.2013

My #StickorTreat Witchy Pumpkin {featuring Duck Tape®}

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Duck Brand provided by ShurTech Brands, LLC. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's finally October!!!  This happens to be my favorite month of the year -- not just because it's my birth-month, but for so many reasons!!  It starts to cool off in the evenings here, which is heavenly after 5 straight months of 100+ degrees, and oh, the fall baking.  It's my favorite -- pumpkin everything!  October is also when it is finally OK to bring out the Halloween decorations!!  I am super excited to share my latest addition to our Halloween decor with you today.

I always see the bright and beautiful Duck Tape® display at my local craft store and my brain starts to race with ideas for fun things I could create.  I especially like the Halloween patterns that are out right now.  After wandering around the store for more than a few minutes trying to settle on one idea, I found these great green pumpkins and I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to create -- a Witchy Pumpkin!

You will need:

one pumpkin {real or fake, orange or other colored -- totally up to you.}

one paper mache witch's hat to decorate

two rolls of coordinating Duck Tape®

a crow, coordinating ribbon, feathers -- whatever your heart desires!

a hot glue gun


 

Step One:  Cover your witch's hat in Duck Tape®.  I don't have any pictures of this step because I needed all my hands to keep the tape from creasing and/or sticking to itself.  Just be patient and take it one strip at a time until  the whole thing is covered.  Don't forget the bottom of the brim, too.  {Sorry.}

Step Two:  Create a large bow using your coordinating Duck Tape® and various ribbons.

To begin, I made strips of Duck Tape® "ribbon" by placing two same-length pieces of tape sticky side together, lining up the edges as well as possible.  You'll need 4 tape "ribbons" about 12-14 inches long to make a bow like mine.  With 3 of your strips, fold the ends into the center, overlapping by about an inch, and cut out triangle notches as shown.  This will allow you to shape your bow when you're finished. 

Now cut your other ribbons in various lengths and stack them all up with your tape bow loops, matching up centers.  Lay your last strip of tape "ribbon" flat in the back of your stack to form the tails of your bow.  Take a small piece of thin ribbon and tie it around the center of your stack, securing the bow together.

From the front gently arrange the tape loops and ribbon pieces by twisting and moving them until the bow becomes full and fluffy as shown below.  Be patient -- it takes some time.

Once you have your bow the way you like it, use your hot glue gun to attach it to the witch's hat.  Situate the crow on the brim of the hat so that it sits behind the bow and hot glue that on, too.

Step Three:  Create an accordion rosette to place at the top of the hat. 

Once I had attached my bow and crow, the hat still seemed a little unfinished.  I made one more Duck Tape® ribbon just like I did for the bow, then cut it in half length-wise to make it narrower. Follow these directions to make an accordion rosette.  Once I had created the rosette, I flattened it with the palm of my hand and cut a circle of Duck Tape® for the center.  I used a small strip of tape to attach it to the point of the witch's hat.

To finish up, I secured the hat to my pumpkin with a few dabs of hot glue.  I LOVE how my Witchy Pumpkin turned out!!

Are you a pumpkin decorating diva who loves Duck Tape®?!  You should totally enter the Duck Tape® Stick or Treat Contest !   All you have to do to enter is submit an image of a Halloween pumpkin (real or fake) decorated with Duck Tape®! The contest is already running and wraps up on October 31st. The winners will be announced on November 11th.

You could win one of these fabulous prizes:
First Place: $1,000 and a Cricut Mini® Personal Electronic Cutter
Second Place: $500
Third Place: $300

Follow  Duck Tape® on Twitter {@TheDuckBrand} for tons of creative inspiration.  Now go!  Make your Duck Tape® pumpkin, enter the Stick or Treat Contest™ and then leave a comment on this post linking me to your finished pumpkin! I can't wait to see what y'all come up with.

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