Monthly Archives: April 2014

Birthday Party Favors & I Cheat on Thank You Notes

Gah…the birthday party upon us & I struggle to think up a party favor for my girls’ 2nd & 4th combined party.  I refused to give out another bag full of bubbles & plastic toys from China.   I really wanted to do something creative & cute, but let’s face it, I didn’t really feel like I could have 30 kids attend a party & afford to give them wildly expensive party favors.  I mean, throwing a party for your kids doesn’t come cheap.

I scoured Pinterest, Etsy, Google, anywhere searching for an idea.  I got nothin’.  So, along comes an opportunity some months ago to buy some mason jars on a website group I’m on.  I buy the 12 jars on the inexpensive side & think…”I could do something with these for the party”.  About 8 of them had chalk board stickers on them, which fueled my fire to incorporate the jars.

After much debate (thinking parents might be mad…), I went with my idea anyway.  Goldfish.  Yep, I took regular old mason jars, put colored gravel in the bottom, bought 36 goldfish (c’mon…they won’t all live to make the party…I needed 5 “extra” just case!), and put them in the mason jars.  I had to buy several more jars to make it all work, but they turned out so cute!  I then faced the problem of the lid.  You can’t exactly screw a regular mason jar top on (the fish gotta breathe!, so I found these darling daisy lids.  I bought them from Amazon & they’re the perfect solution to not pouring out your goldfish onto your car’s leather seats on the drive home from the party, all while allowing Goldie to breathe, how nice.

So, without more typing…here’s the final product:

I also defaulted to an easy version of the thank you note (thanks due to my friend Anna on the idea).  My mom taught me early you have to say thanks with a note for gifts…so I refuse to let my kids get away without doing the same.  However, at the ages of 4 & 2, you know who actually “writes” those notes (no, my husband ain’t it!).  So to encourage the 4 year olds budding writing skills & to get me off the hook from penning them all: I present to you my form letter (Birthday Thank You):

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.25.10 PM

Side note: I don’t use the word “ain’t” (except in my slang language above), my mom also loathed that word…but it’s actually a word in the dictionary these days…ugh.  But, thank you iMac computer for underlining it in red as a misspelled word!  I love you, Apple!

Crockpot Egg Casserole

I’m often required to bring a breakfast “main dish” for a Mom’s group I partake in.  I’m always plaqued by the task of keeping up with feeding my family, running the house, etc.  Throw making a dish to feed 45 on top of that, and I stress.  So I searched the internet for something to throw into the crock pot (my default cooking device).

I found a good recipe from THIS BLOG, but I wanted a more egg-based dish (this one is really heavy on potatoes).  So I’ve adapted her recipe to better suit my own personal taste (though hers was quite good, so if you like heavy potato based egg dishes, try hers).

HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 20oz bag frozen hash browns (I go with Trader Joe’s brand)
  • .5-1lb sausage, browned (not cooked thoroughly) & drained (I default to chicken sausage to save on calories & fat)
  • 8oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 green onions, sliced and divided in half (optional)
  • 14-15 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (for creamier eggs, use whole milk or even half & half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt & 1/2 tsp of onion powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Spray a large crock pot with non-stick spray then place half the hash browns into the bottom.
  2. Layer in half the hash browns, partially-cooked sausage, half the cheeses, and half the green onions, then repeat hash brown, sausage, and cheese layers.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and seasoning salt, then drizzle over top.
  4. Cook on high for 2.5-3 hours (depending on your crock pot), or low for 4-6 hours (again, based on how fast yours typically cooks).  I end up setting the timer on my crock pot so I don’t have to wake 0 dark thirty (not my best time).  If yours doesn’t have this feature, you may have to set an alarm clock (assuming you have a speedy crock pot).

I Cheat Making Cookies…

I’ve given out this recipe a few times over the years when people ask…but for the most part have kept it a closely guarded recipe. Why? Because I CHEAT AT MAKING COOKIES! After a friend in need of some quick cookies for a party she was attending (and had forgotten about) was looking for advice, I gave out my secret to her. I then figured, why keep it a secret. As a mom, we need ways to cheat to make things FAST! So, for all my fellow mom’s in need of a quick cookie recipe with endless possibilities and combinations, here it is!:

Cheater, Cheater

Huh? Yeah, that’s it. A box of cake mix, 2 eggs, and a 1/2 cup of oil. Mix it up, and then take tablespoon fills on to a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. And if you really want to cheat (which I do often) because you are in a desperate hurry…throw the entiremixed ingredients into a pizza tray (I get the disposable ones from the store), press it into the tray & bake for 10-12 mins at 350. Done.

1TB spoon fulls pressed down

You can then frost these cookies, or not. You can use plain white mix, yellow, chocolate, these are “funfetti”. You can add chocolate chips, nuts, whatever strikes your fancy. I’ve done any number of combinations.

This recipe yields 26 (yes, 26) cookies if you do 1 TB spoonfuls of dough. So technically, you can eat 2 for yourself and still have a dozen to share!😊

24 cookies ('cuz I ate the extra 2)

I’ll probably end up frosting these too…but they look fine just plain. I’ve often times added sugar to the tops of the cookies prior to baking & then left them unfrosted too.  I opted to frost & sprinkle these for a cookie exchange I did.

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Frosted with Sprinkles on peppermint trays