Category Archives: Homemade

The Ultimate Guide to Rock-Painting

Welcome to the world of rock painting! My family is new to this hobby but we are happy to share what we’ve learned so far and hope you will comment with any ideas or products you’ve had success with!

First of all, if you haven’t heard much about rock painting or wonder what exactly we are talking about, check out this week’s article from Martha Stewart!

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I am pursuing minimalism with a passion, and consequently I’m pretty choosy about starting new hobbies or collections. Rock painting fits PERFECTLY into the minimalism lifestyle. The best part of this hobby is that the art is shared instead of hoarded, and each rock is created to be a blessing to the community. I love that!

So let’s get to the specifics of rock painting, are you ready? Here is what you will need:

Rocks: “River Rocks” are usually what you want, because the surface will be nice and smooth to apply paint or markers. The Dollar Tree sells small bags of smooth black rocks that work well and are an easy way to start out. I’m looking for a good local source currently. These rocks on Amazon look like a good price for the weight. 

Paint: Most acrylic paint should work fine for painting rocks. We used whatever we have on hand for solid colors including craft paint, spray paint and leftover paint samples from the hardware store. My daughters can free-hand well with fine paintbrushes; but for someone like me, (who is artistically challenged) I needed something more user friendly. Which is why we ordered markers…

Markers: These markers by Uni-Posca are AMAZING for rocks! The color is so vibrant, the tip perfect for fine details and it’s pretty quick drying as well. The colors even layer well, with just a brief drying in between. This makes it easy to draw and write on even the smallest rocks.

Rock ID tag: If you are part of our Facebook page, you will want to tag your rock so that it can be shared and re-shared. Click here to download the labels for free! (For smaller rocks these will need to be trimmed to size).

Sealing Spray: The most important step is to waterproof your rocks before you leave them out in the weather. There are lots of clear spray products that will work for this, such as Mod Podge Spray or Krylon Clear Coat Spray. A few light coats should do the trick. You will be ready to hide just as soon as these have dried!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

 

Ice Cream for breakfast

My kids are pretty excited that I let them have Ice Cream for Breakfast. This is an incredibly easy and healthy recipe that really shows how powerful the Vitamix is. So healthy we can serve it at breakfast!

2 frozen bananas (for easy blending, slice and freeze for at least 30 minutes)

12 frozen strawberries

1/2 – 3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp. of vanilla

Toss frozen bananas, then frozen strawberries into the Vitamix, then add 1/2 cup of milk. The trick is to use the tamper constantly to make this recipe. It will be loud and angry, but the results are yummy! Start blending low and then move up to high, constantly tamper-ing the contents down until you get a smooth creamy texture that can be scooped. (Add additional milk if needed).

strawberrycreamcollage

 

 

 

How We Do Dinner Part 2

Welcome to my new blog, Chasing Santee! I’m working on the design bit by bit so thanks for your patience while my content has been on hold. I realized I was becoming more and more frustrated with blogging and that was because I hadn’t been writing as much, I had been researching and tweaking and transferring. But what I have re-discovered in 2016 is that I must write. It’s vital to my emotional health! So I am coming back to posting and trying to tie up the loose ends of some of my two part posts. So, without further ado, here is Part 2 of How We Do Dinner.

In Part 1, I talked about some of our quick meals. For this post, I’m linking to some of our current favorite recipes; some are new and some I have used for the last thirteen years! A few are just quick guidelines (I would like to update with full recipes later). We can really recommend these! (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, some of these may make you want one!)

  • Easy Cheesy Veggie Lasagna: Delicious and freezes great. We really like this better than traditional lasagna.
  • Salad for the win: Our favorite product from Sam’s Club is their huge tub of Organic Spring Mix.  We also grab the big bags of sliced almonds, craisins, crutons, and real bacon pieces. I used to make salads in bowls for each person, but I finally gave in and started tossing my salad together with dressing and tons of toppings in a big bowl. It is JUST BETTER, trust me. There are a million variations, obviously, but we have found keeping those ingredients available with different fruits and veggies means the salad actually gets served….and eaten, rather than languishing in the produce drawer. If some of the spring mix needs to be finished up, I throw it in the freezer for smoothies.
  • Balsamic Chicken Thighs: You will need an Instant Pot for this, but you will love the results. Tender, tangy and perfect with jasmine rice.
  • Wrap it: One of the fun things I realized when I worked at Tropical Smoothie was that almost anything makes an awesome wrap. Flour tortillas are cheap and last forever in the fridge, so I always stock up at Aldi. Try: Chicken salad with fresh spinach and onions, breakfast burritos, leftover turkey, cranberries & dressing (even gravy tastes delicious), and chicken Caesar salad.
  • Mac & Cheese: Ok, I have obviously shared this before, but it’s good enough to repeat. SO easy.
  • Oven Roasted Veggies: These easy instructions work for pretty much any veggies, and the olive oil and balsamic vinegar make them extra irresistible.
  • Healthy Chili: So easy the kids can make it!
  • Homemade pizza: We love the pizza dough sold in the Publix bakery cooler. This way you can really load up on the veggies and cut down on the grease.
  • Taco Soup: One can of chicken, one can of corn, one pack of taco seasoning, one pack of ranch dressing, one can of beans. Dump all together (no can-draining) in a pot,  bring to a boil and simmer for like 20 minutes. Awesome camping recipe! (I imagine….I have never slept outdoors in my life). Serve with chips, sour cream, and , of course, cheese.
  • Copycat Chick-fil-a Sandwiches: It’s fun to try copycat recipes and the pickle juice marinate and powder sugar in the breading bring this pretty close to the real thing. Honestly, we’d rather just go to Chick-fil-a but there is something empowering about re-creating a restaurant favorite!
  • Quick Chicken Pot Pie: Saute your chopped veggie trio (onions, carrots, celery), add some chicken broth and bring to a light boil, add a spoonful cornstarch and stir until thickened. Throw in a bunch of chopped cooked chicken (or make it easy on yourself and use a store-cooked rotisserie chicken. ) Season by preference. Pour it all into a crust (DIY or buy Pillsbury), top with a second crust and bake.
  • Beans & Rice: I have mentioned this recipe before because it is one of our favorites and it literally takes three minutes to throw in the Instant Pot.
  • Stir-Fry: A big bag of broccoli slaw from the grocery store makes the quickest stir fry ever. Throw in whatever veggies you have and lightly saute with EVOO. Add some rice or pasta and leftover pork or chicken. Don’t forget to serve with kid-friendly chopsticks! It makes the whole experience 10 times better (the rule is parents must eat with chopsticks also).
  • Cabbage & Buttered Noodles: This may not sound great, but trust me, served with savory kielbasa (we just buy these from Hillshire Farm) it’s a crowd-pleaser. This was a recipe we started making when we were over-run with cabbage from our CSA and we still love it!
  • Chicken Salad: Chopped Rotisserie chicken or canned chicken plus mayo, salt, pepper, & seasoned salt makes a great chicken salad. Add any of the following: chopped celery, craisins, raisins, grapes, chopped apples, or sliced almonds (again from Sam’s Club) and you’ve got an awesome meal.

That’s it for now! What are some of your go-to family favorites? I’d love to try them!

Real Mac & Cheese in the Instant Pot

This post contains affiliate links. As always, I only recommend products I truly believe in or desperately want to try.

This is a crazy easy alternative to boxed mac and cheese.

While it’s not a health food, it is REAL food with real ingredients and definitely tastier than the microwave version.

And guess what you cook it in? That’s right…my favorite thing: the Instant Pot (affiliate link). Are you tired of hearing about this appliance yet? Sorry….not sorry. I can’t help raving about something that saves me SO much time. *note: if you want a normal size portion, you are going to want to half this. I supersize everything.

Real Mac & Cheese Instantly

5 cups elbow macaroni noodles

4 cups water

2 cups half and half (or whole milk)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 tbls. butter

1 cup half and half (or whole milk)

5 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Spray the inner pot with cooking spray and stir in 5 cups uncooked noodles, 4 cups water, 2 cups half & half, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dry mustard and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Give it all a good stir, close the pot and seal the vent. Push manual 7 minutes or HIGH pressure 7 Minutes depending on your model. When the timer beeps, do a quick pressure release (QPR). (be careful, this spurts up pretty high so I throw a dishtowel over it.) Next stir in 4 tbls. butter, 1 cup of half & half, and 5 cups of shredded cheese.

That’s it….shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes from start to finish. Enjoy!

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

We have had a fun spring break that has been full of relaxing, family time, waiting around for a nephew to be born, and playing at the park. Before school starts tomorrow, we thought we would have one more treat-fling. These are crazy-easy, surprisingly delicious, grain-free cookies! I stumbled across an easy recipe for peanut butter cookies nearly thirteen years ago, and have repeated it ever since. Tonight I tweaked it a bit and we think it’s the best version yet!

PBcupcookies

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup Almond Butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk chocolate chips

4 tbls. additional sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F
  2. Beat 1 cup Peanut Butter, 1 cup Almond Butter, 2 cups sugar and 2 eggs together thoroughly in a large bowl.
  3. Gently stir in 1 cup chocolate chips
  4. Form dough into balls and roll each in additional sugar.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool thoroughly.
  6. Enjoy! Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

How we do Dinner: Part 1

  • Omelettes: We do a lot of breakfast for dinner:eggs/grits/fruit or omelettes & fruit (I spent a long time googling omelettes and finally found a perfect photo tutorial on how to make them easily, but they removed the link). Options: sausage, bacon bits, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, broccoli etc. I have also made omelette kits and put them in the freezer with small bags of fresh veggies/shredded cheese/cooked sausage/onions and put it all in a big ziplock to grab in a hurry. This makes it crazy easy and  cheap because you have just enough of everything right when you need it.
  • Oatmeal Bar: Sometimes we even do a “gourmet” oatmeal bar with tons of toppings. Yes, I give my kids a bowl of oatmeal for dinner but if they have a small sprinkle of chocolate chips and some sliced strawberries they say “best dinner ever”. The secret to delicious oatmeal is a big plop of real butter and a drizzle of half and half or whole milk/cream. Options: fruit, brown sugar, nuts (huge bag of sliced almonds from Costco lasts forever and goes into lots of our recipes), coconut, rainsins/craisins, chocolate chips, peanut butter.
  • Nacho Night: This is also an effort free meal that somehow gets my kids very excited. We often do Nacho Night on a blanket on the floor and have movie night, so that could be a big part of the appeal! Aldi has tortilla chips for like $1.20 a bag so we are never without these. Options: shredded chicken (canned works), beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, veggies, ground beef. Nachos “outside the box” can include breakfast toppings (my friend Katy does sausage, eggs, cheese on nachos), or chicken salad with chips (super delicious and lower carb than chicken salad sandwiches).
  • Just add a smoothie! When we have slim pickings for dinner (the end of leftovers, or something my kids aren’t thrilled to eat), we add a smoothie to round out our meal. After years of smoothies, my kids still LOVE them and I can make it healthy to add  to a not-so-fab meal OR decadent to add to a healthy but not exciting meal (big spinach salad with tons of toppings is great with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie on the side). This is when having a vitamix is 100% worth it for us. Seriously, it’s like a magic bullet at our house: “We are having salad…..AND A SMOOTHIE” *big cheers* (affiliate link).
  • Fruit side/treat: Another thing we have been doing is swapping a side out for fruit. So say we have grilled chicken and rice as our main course. Instead of adding broccoli, we add fresh pineapple which is a big treat for us. Suddenly our meal is exciting and  I have found this really helps me not feel like I need dessert also, so it’s a win/win.

Like I said, these are not original ideas or revolutionary ones, but they are in our current rotation and are working for us now. Cooking for a family gets so tiring with all the other obligations of parenting, so anything that makes it easier is valuable in my book! I’d love to hear any ideas you have and I’ll be adding Part 2 soon!

Friday Favorites: Health & Comfort Edition

This week has decidedly not gone how I’d hoped. I was nauseous all day Monday until Monday night, when things went downhill, but I’ll spare you the details. Thankfully, no one else seems to have been infected, and thankfully I am finally feeling nearly normal today. On top of the vomiting, (whoops, I said no details), I was feeling truly horrible because I couldn’t stomach coffee (or anything much) until this morning. If you know me at all, you know that a lack of coffee is not compatible with my lifestyle.

But no one wants to hear about that, so I thought I would quickly share some of the things that help me feel better when I am under the weather. In the interest of full disclosure, please realize that I have become an Amazon partner, so I will receive a small (really, minuscule) compensation for any items purchased through my links. As ya’ll know I have been shamelessly raving about my favorite things for years, I just thought I would finally try to get a little cash flow from my role as consumer enabler. 

be kool

One day I was having a horrible migraine and couldn’t keep any meds down. My husband ran out and brought home these and they have been a life-saver. They aren’t recommended for kids, but there is a children’s version (which I have not purchased). I admit I have cut the adult size ones in half for feverish kids and they have helped but that’s obviously not medical advice from me. You would never receive medical advice from me. Never.

I am also a huge fan of a good heating pad, and I really love this one. Is it weird if I admit I use it like everyday? I don’t truly have chronic pain thankfully, but as a busy mom I feel like I am always in some kind of pain and this thing gets hot, fast. I actually ruined our bed because I used a heating pad too frequently when I was pregnant, but that’s a story for another day. For the kids, we like rice filled heating pads that you can make yourself and heat up in the microwave. Little Blue Boo has a great easy tutorial and if you haven’t checked out her blog-world, it’s amazing! If you want to make these heating pads therapeutic with Essential Oils please check with my friend Jessica, she can definitely help you! They also love this stuffed bear that we were gifted and it has held up great for three years of use. Thanks, Diane! These  Anti-Stress eye pillows are also fantastic and I keep one by my bed (if only the microwave was there I’d be all set).

I have never used Goody’s powder until this year, but I will always keep a stock of it now. Especially for those with a caffeine addiction, this is amazingly effective and quick. I thought it was weird to take powdered pain reliever, but results are results. We really have a lot more health related recommendations, but my morning blog time is coming to a close and it’s time to face our homeschool day. Thank you Lord for coffee and beautiful Fridays in the springtime! 3 John 1:2 “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Have a great weekend!

The Homeschool on-the-go Bag

In the interest of full disclosure, please realize that I have become an Amazon partner, so I will receive a small (really, minuscule) compensation for any items purchased through the following affiliate links. As ya’ll know I have been shamelessly raving about my favorite things for years, so I just thought I would finally try to get a little cash flow from my role as consumer enabler. Thanks for taking a look at my recommendations!

Once again, I ask, how did folks homeschool before the advent of Pinterest??

When I feel particularly overwhelmed with the clutter, I tend to browse the internet for the magical cure. Sometimes I get distracted by how to catch mosquitoes in a two liter bottle, how to decorate a mug with a sharpie, or the best way to dress for your body type. Other times, I find something truly helpful that I implement right away like this idea for a homeschool mom bag*…I love it and it has really helped me keep life organized!

This method works great for me because we have a fairly small home with limited dedicated school space, I want to be able to homeschool “on the road”, and I’m not the world’s most organized mom to begin with. All you need to make this work is a Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote**, (look at all the pretty color options!), an open top file box, file folders, and your basic craft/office supplies (the things you want to keep close at hand for school).

No instructions are needed, you simply fit the file box into the bag, add the file folders, and fill the outside pockets with supplies. Here is what I keep in my bag:

  • folders labeled with each child’s name, the previous school year’s records, this school year’s records, each subject, and forms.
  • My Homeschool Planner
  • pens, pencils, sharpies
  • glue stick, craft glue, tape, small stapler, glue dots
  • post-it notes, small notebook, reward stickers
  • hole-punch, scissors, rubber bands, paper clips
  • hand sanitizer, some random string or yarn, and a small screwdriver just in case (I’m pretty sure I could moonlight as a secret agent with the contents of this bag).

When we are at home, this bag lives on top of a rolling cart in our kitchen. If we are traveling, I can remove the file box portion and fill the heart of the bag with workbooks, notebooks, readers and whatever else we may need. It makes it so easy to homeschool on the go! I’m still not great with organizing, but with this bag, I can totally fake it! I’d love to hear any of your ideas!

VID03518

*I originally found this idea at IHeart Organizing!

**Please note, I am NOT affiliated with Thirty One Bags in any way, and in fact had never owned any of them until I found this idea. As it happens, I purchased my tote on ebay, but if you’d like to find a consultant in your area, look here.