Veggie Pizza Recipe

This is technically an appetizer, but I use it for supper all the time. It’s not actually a pizza either, since you don’t use sauce or cook it. But we call it veggie pizza anyway. Sure the kids pick off certain things, but for the most part they eat it.

You’ll need to following:

– Crescent Rolls (in the canister uncooked)
– 1 package Cream Cheese (get the block, trust me)
– 1 package Ranch Dressing mix
– Your choice of veggies

Take your crescent rolls and roll them all out into a cookie sheet. You might want to grease the cookie sheet first so they don’t stick. Roll them out so they look like a pizza crust. We use the crescent rolls because when rolled out, they fit the cookie sheet pretty well. Bake according to directions on the rolls.

Let the crust cool completely (important step!). Since the cream cheese needs to be soft, I usually set it on or near the crust. You still might need to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, but do NOT forget to take it out the package (it’s made of foil and WILL set your microwave on fire!).

Mix the cream cheese with the ranch dressing mix in a bowl. Spread on the cool crust. Add your chopped veggies. We usually use broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green onions or green peppers. You can add whatever combination you like, there really are no rules to it.

Put in fridge and cool for at least one hour before serving.

This recipe can also be doubled using a large cookie sheet. Just use two of everything listed. Enjoy!

Projects with Scrap Fabric

I realize not everyone can sew, but it happens to be something I enjoy doing. I love to be able to make something by hand, and take pride in it. Not everything I’ve attempted has come out as planned, but that’s alright. It’s how we learn.

Because I like to try out all kinds of different projects, I have a lot of scraps. I use them for several different smaller projects, which I’ll list here.

Doll Clothes
Since some doll clothes have small pieces, a scrap will sometimes work. Scraps are easier to use when working with smaller doll clothes such as those for Barbie dolls. If nothing else, you could always make a scrap fabric dress out of all those little scraps you’ve got.

Scrap Pillows
This project I absolutely love, because there are really no rules. Just as long as you end up with a square or rectangle, it doesn’t matter what you add to it. I’m actually planning to make a scrap pillow to go along with my son’s quilt. It will be from all the scraps in the quilt, so it will match.

Doll Quilts
What better way to use up those scraps then to make a doll quilt? If you’ve made a full size quilt, you can make a doll quilt with what you’ve got left. This works especially well since you’ll probably have extra batting.

These are just a few different projects with scrap fabric to get you started. Have fun!

Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

I actually have a few different ways to make chicken fried rice, and last night was my “short cut” version. Usually I make fried rice when I have leftover meat (like chicken or pork chops), but I saw already cut pieces of chicken at the store the other day. MUCH easier. I’m not above doing things from scratch, but this looked way too easy.

Below are two different chicken fried rice recipes. Either one can use chicken in pieces specifically for fried rice or stir fry like I used last night, or you can use leftover chicken. It really doesn’t matter.

Shortcut Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

– Half pound chicken, cut into strips
– Box of Chicken Fried Rice (Rice-a-roni or other brands)

Fry up your chicken and set aside. Cook rice according to box, adding the chicken just before you let it simmer. Enjoy!


Homemade Chicken Fried Rice

– White or Brown rice
– Chicken, cut into strips
– Eggs
– Water
– Chicken Bouillon Cubes
– Salt & Pepper
– Canned Vegetables (corn, peas, carrots, etc)

When making this particular recipe, you end up with egg drop soup to go with it. I’m sure there are easier ways to do this, but it’s the way I’ve always done it. First you make your rice as you normally would and set it aside. Then you boil water in another pot with the chicken bouillon cubes. Break your eggs and drop them into the water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In another pan, fry up your chicken. When the rice is done, add it to the hot skillet you fried up your chicken in. Very slowly add a bit of the egg drop soup, making sure you get a bit of the eggs in it. Add your veggies and more salt and pepper to taste if need be.

It’s a whole lot more detailed and makes a bigger mess than the original, but it’s a true “from scratch” recipe. If you have a different way you make it, please let us know!

Crafts with Pine Cones

When I was a kid, I loved to paint pine cones. Having a huge forest as my neighbor, there were no shortage of pine cones either. I loved to spend the day walking through the woods and finding them. I’d bring all my treasures home, and sit down to paint.

The pine cones I chose always looked like mini-trees, so that’s what I would do with them. I’d paint them all green, then paint “decorations” on the tips. I never got too fancy, because it didn’t take too much to entertain me as a kid. Just a few different colored dots to look like Christmas decorations on a tree, and sometimes a bit of glitter. That’s it! Very easy, but kept me busy for at least a few hours.

Now I know you may not be as lucky as me living so close to an endless supply of pine cones, but a trip to a local park might be just as good. It adds to the fun of the craft, trust me! It’s exciting to find those perfect pine cones, and it’s a whole lot of fun looking for them too. 😉

Homemade Gifts for Kids

I know I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m making quite a few of my kids Christmas gifts. I do every year. It’s less expensive and means a whole lot more than some expensive toy that will break in a few months. Believe me, my kids have enough toys!

So here’s the homemade side of my kids Christmas list. I hope you’ll find some ideas here of things you can make for your kids!

Doll Clothes
My little girl loves her baby dolls. She also loves clothes. So I have to make her at least one or two outfits for her babies. There’s two patterns I’ve made myself, and a few others I’ve bought. With all the different types of fabric we’ve got, it’s not hard to come up with all kinds of different clothes. If you need some help planning this out or need some patterns, be sure to check out our doll clothes project at Idea Queen.

Quilts
So this one might not be a quick and easy project, but it might be if you’ve got a sewing machine. I decided to hand sew most of this quilt, or at least the blocks. When I put it all together I was going to use the sewing machine, but it’s now missing a piece. So I guess the entire thing will be hand sewn. Not to worry, all the blocks are done so it’s now just a matter of putting it all together. Which is already about half done. I think I’ll finish it in less than a month!

I also made a mini-quilt for my daughter’s baby dolls with extra batting. It was actually my very first quilt, and the extra batting was from a friend whom I helped pin up a quilt last year. It was just the perfect size for her dolls and it gave me practice before attempting the big one!

Clothes
I found the most perfect fabric for my daughter, and decided we needed to make a dress out of it. It’s just about finished! There’s only one more side to sew. Again I was going to use the sewing machine, but I guess it’s going to be hand-sewn. Not a big deal, it’s not that much.

Tote Bags
So I need to confess – I probably could have easily made a tote bag for my kids, but I bought one instead. It was sitting at a craft show for only $5, and it featured my daughter’s favorite character (Dora). With all the things I needed to finish right now, I knew I probably wouldn’t have enough time to make one. So I grabbed it. But if YOU have time, then by all means look into making one!

Now I know all these ideas require sewing, but it just happens to be the skill I have. Really it’s not that hard to do, and can be quite fun if you enjoy doing it. These are also some time consuming projects, so make sure you don’t get overwhelmed. Most of the projects I have sitting here are almost done, and stuff I started probably over a year ago. I just haven’t had time (or the energy) to pick up sewing for some time. Except the doll clothes – those are pretty quick to do. I guess seeing prices of Christmas gifts gets me in the mood!

Homemade Gifts for Adults

While a lot of the ideas on our homemade Christmas gift ideas page applies to adults, I thought I would mention a few ideas I’ve done for family in the past. It’s not about how much the gift costs, but rather how much the gift means to the person receiving it.

Zipper Bags (sewing required)
Last year I picked up fabric featuring my family’s favorite college basketball team. Even though I’m the odd one out (I really could care less what team is playing), my parents and grandparents hardly ever miss a game. So for Christmas I made a small pouch with a zipper for my mom, and a pillow for my dad out of the fabric. They were thrilled! Of course it didn’t cost all but a few dollars for both of them, but it was something very special.

Homemade Bread
My grandparents are THE hardest people to shop for, so we don’t even try most years. They have an entire farm house full of just “stuff”, so about the only thing they need is food. Not just any food though – homemade food! My grandma doesn’t bake or cook anymore, so giving them something already made is just perfect. Even if you don’t have a bread machine, taking the extra time to make homemade bread is a perfect gift for those hard to shop for people.

Unique and Personal Gifts
This one can be a bit tricky, and you’ve really got to use your imagination to come up with ideas. My dad is one that doesn’t have a whole lot, but doesn’t WANT a lot either. He likes to live very basic. For years everyone has given him t-shirts and sweat shirts, but now he’s got more than he’ll ever need. While looking around a craft show though, I came across a stationary set that was VERY cute. Since he’s so picky about his notebook he uses for his budget and notes, I had a better idea. We’re going to pick up one of his normal notebooks – and decorate it. It will be personalized, special, and unique to him. He will LOVE it.

Other Homemade Gifts for Adults
You can never go wrong with food. Especially if the person you are giving to has special food needs. Making a specific item for someone with a special diet is both thoughtful and needed. Mixes are a nice gift too, if you know they’ll have the time and ability to make it themselves. (My grandparents we’ve learned do NOT have the time, so mixes are out of the question – we actually have to MAKE the items for them). You can make desserts, breads, or any other item that will keep for at least a week or so. If nothing else, make them up a set of coupons for different dishes you can make and WILL make for them over the year. Think of it as a gift certificate for your baking services. 😉

If you need a few more ideas, be sure to see the list of homemade Christmas gift ideas on Idea Queen!

Christmas Shopping on eBay

This is one of those websites you can get lost on. Meaning once you get there, it’s hard to close the window. I could spend hours browsing eBay, and easily spend a small fortune. I mean there are some really good deals for awesome products on eBay!

I’ve managed to do a nice chunk of my Christmas shopping on eBay, including my son’s largest gift. I always said I refused to buy a game console of any kind, but my oldest begged me and we made a deal related to homework. He’s coming through on his deal it, so I gave in. But still I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford a game system – even a GameCube that’s cheaper than some of the newer consoles out right now. So I turned to eBay.

Granted it’s used, but I made sure I read the auctions carefully. I made sure the auctions stated they were in good working order with no problems what so ever. I also took care to read the feedback on the sellers. One or two negatives out of several hundred happy customers I can understand. After all, you can’t please all people all of the time. I still was very careful to read the negative – it’s not hard to judge if it’s truly a negative, or if the buyer was just having a bad day (or didn’t read the auction very well).

What I finally won I was quite proud of. Slightly used with 5 games for just over $60 (including shipping). Really you can’t beat that! I also managed to pick up another game for less than I could have even used in a store. Plus my son wasn’t the only one I shopped for – my daughter is getting 2 brand new computer games for $13 (shipping included).

So really it’s worth checking out eBay, especially if you are on a tight budget like we are. Spending several hundred on Christmas just isn’t an option when you are barely getting by, which makes eBay an awesome choice to find perfect gifts. 😉

Natural Remedies for Allergies

Over the past several months my son has been battling fluid in his ears, ear infections, and hearing problems. All this being caused by major congestion due to allergies. We finally tracked the source of the allergy – mold. But the specialist only said “here’s your drugs” and sent us on our way. Why I thought he’d have some other answer I’ll never know. I do know that I’m DONE fighting this battle with both the allergies and the “specialists”.

I’ve done a lot of reading over the past few weeks, and I’ve come to several conclusions. First off, drugs or no drugs, there is no quick fix. The problems won’t just “disappear” the next day. Even with a prescription he could still be dealing with this for another month. Which defeats the purpose of drugs, don’t ya think?

Second, I’ve realized my son is not healthy. If he was, he would not have these problems. His little body is not fighting off what it should be. It’s not working the way it should be. I feel like this is somewhat my fault for not making sure he’s getting the nutrition he should. His younger sister never has major problems, but she’s also not a picky eater in the least (in fact just the opposite – we have to watch her so she doesn’t eat too much because she’s already a bit “chunky”). She eats and gets what she needs. My son does not.

Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to fight the problems, we have to help his body first. The source of the problem is not what type of allergy he’s suffering from, but rather that his body can’t do it’s job. Instead of “treating” the problem, we are going to HELP his body fight it off on it’s own.

I’ve read a slew of resources for “treatments” and tried several things. After a few weeks, they really aren’t working. In fact, I questioned today if he’s not getting worse. This just confirms what I’ve already said – we need to make him healthy, not just treat the problem.

Currently he takes children’s vitamins that I picked up at Walmart. I like them, I really do. They have no added sugars, additives, or other garbage (I had to really hunt for those by the way – finding anything natural at Walmart is a real challenge!). He likes the taste and I know they are actually good for them. BUT they are not as good as they could be.

As I was doing some more research, I came across Eve’s Best. This is already a friend of mine (in business), and I already trust what she sells. In fact, the water distillers she sells was something I already had in my home long before I met her! She’s got a long article about allergies, which talked a lot about what I had already read in other places. Help the body, don’t treat the problem.

On her site she sells children’s vitamins, similar to what I give my son already. But there’s a huge difference between what she sells and what I already have. Granted they are both natural vitamins, but the ones Evie sells have more of the key antioxidant vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Her vitamins have more Vitamin C, E, and A, as well as more Zinc and other important ingredients that our vitamins didn’t have. It’s not that we have is bad, it’s just that these are better.

Evie’s vitamins are not the only thing my son is given. We also give him flax seed oil capsules which came from Shamanshop.net. We give him this not only for his allergies, but because he’s also got some behavior problems which may or may not be ADD (I refuse to get him tested, because I know the answer will be “yes he’s got it, here’s your drugs”). He was really lacking focus, and I can’t tell you how much he’s improved just from this one supplement. I think it’s also helped the school is now aware of his hearing issues, so they make sure he understands before he’s in trouble for not following directions.

For several weeks now, my 7 year old son has been taking children’s vitamins from Eve’s Best, and flax seed oil capsules from Shamanshop.net. While to me he still sounds slightly congested, I honestly believe his hearing is starting to improve. He has not had an ear infection, or so much as a cold since he started taking these on a regular basis. In fact, his little sister and I both caught a flu-like bug, but he has yet to get it (knock on wood) . If he hasn’t gotten it by now, I highly doubt he will. Which to me is absolutely amazing, because he was always the first to get sick. I do wish I would have been giving my daughter the vitamins all this time too so she wouldn’t have gotten sick, but the plus side is she bounced right back from it and wasn’t sick nearly as long as a few others had been. That’s proof enough to me our old vitamins were good, but these are so much better!

Our supply is starting to run low, so I’m off to buy more right now. 😉

Cheap Clothes Shopping

Clothes can make perfect Christmas gifts for kids. Especially for girls. My daughter has been excited to get clothes since her first birthday!

While there are lots of places locally you can get cheap clothes, there are also some really good places to go cheap clothes shopping online too. There are two recommended places I wanted to share.

The first one is a store you may not have heard of. ClassicCloseouts.com has some amazing deals on clothing for the entire family. You can find clothes for women, men, and kids here. Worth checking out!

The other place I recommend looking just about everyone knows. You just may not have thought about checking it out. That place is of course eBay! Not only can you find clothes here, but do half of your Christmas shopping here. In fact, I just picked up my son’s big gift for half as much as I would have paid for it brand new. Just be sure you read listings very carefully, and check the ratings of the sellers too. eBay can be a FANTASTIC place to find stuff, but it can be very easy to get scammed too. Just as long as you check everything out carefully, your eBay experience will be a good one.

So there are two places to get you started at least, and help cut down your shopping expenses!

Unique Interactive Christmas Cards

If you are in need of something different this Christmas, why not send an ecard? It will take a whole lot less time than writing all those cards out by hand, and a whole lot less in postage too.

Just because you send them via email doesn’t mean they can’t be personalized. Most places that offer ecards allow you to enter personalization in the card. So you get the best of both worlds – personalization AND cost effective!

A great place to grab unique interactive Christmas cards is Blue Mountain. You don’t have to worry about spyware or other computer problems. Plus they have an excellent selection of eCards for every occasion. Check them out at the link below!


BlueMountain.com--Send Unlimited Greeting Cards!