#Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Happy fall ya’ll! I say “fall”, but, as usual, Florida still hasn’t gotten the memo. We had a little nice weather teaser before it shot back up to the high 80s again! I’ve got my pumpkin scented candles burning & am doing everything possible to wish “fall” into existence! I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’ve made broccoli soup & figured maybe, just maybe some warm soup might remind the weather what month it is. I couldn’t find the usual recipe I use so after finding a couple decent looking & sounding ones on Pinterest, squishing them together, adding things, skipping things, & basically completely butchering them so bad that I don’t even have to give those sites credit (lol), I came up with this…

broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups regular cream (half & half can also be used)
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 cup celery (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar for garnish (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Saute the onion & garlic with 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, whisk together remaining butter & flour over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Slowly whisk in the cream & chicken broth and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli, carrots, onions, and celery. Let them simmer on medium for about 25 minutes until the veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add salt, pepper, & shredded cheese.
  6. Allow the cheese to melt then serve. Top individual bowls with remaining shredded cheese if desired.

I actually used about 4 times the veggies the other recipes called for, but honestly it turned out perfectly balanced. I feel that one cup of broccoli does not a broccoli soup make. I also used way more cheese as well, but who doesn’t love cheese?! Anyways, hopefully “fall” will get here soon & I can try out some more cool weather recipes! Hope you enjoy this recipe! If you are anything like me & have to change up recipes you find online, I’d love to hear what variations you made! Have a favorite fall dish? Let me know so I can give it a try!

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#Happy Birthday Frozen Style #Frost Bites

I went to an adorable Frozen birthday party this weekend. My friend, Christy, always throws the cutest parties! I shared her backyard barnyard birthday party idea last year so if you missed that one definitely check it out now! Now I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I was asked to make some Frozen marshmallow pops aka Frost Bites (lol) and they turned out spectacular. I’ll share that idea first before I move on to party pics & ideas.

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Frost Bites

Supplies:

  • marshmallows
  • sprinkles (I used blue, purple, silver, & snowflakes to go with the Frozen theme.)
  • paper straws (You can find some adorable ones in a variety of colors @ Target.) or cake pop sticks
  • candy melts (White candy melts allowed the sprinkles to be more visible plus better matched the Frozen color scheme. Also one 12 oz bag of candy melts, Ghirardelli in my case, was enough to coat over 45 marshmallows. Just a FYI so you don’t over-buy like I did.)
  • mason jars (You could use any container, but the mason jars worked perfectly.)

Directions:

  • Stick your marshmallows on your sticks.
  • Melt candy melts according to package directions. You can use the microwave, but I had better luck with a double boiler. I kept the stove on the lowest setting after the candy melted so it didn’t start cooling & thickening while I dipped the marshmallows.
  • Tap the coated marshmallow off on the edge of your boiler to remove excess candy coating. If you don’t, the sprinkles like to slide off with the candy coating as they cool.
  • Dip the candy coated marshmallows into sprinkles turning to make sure the sides are coated. Again, don’t leave too much candy coating on your marshmallows or you’ll end up with a mess. I used muffin tins to the sprinkles easily accessible as I worked. Also, while the snowflake sprinkles were adorable heavier sprinkles tried to fall off as the coating cools. Colored sugar & nonpareils worked the best.
  • Refrigerate the pops as you go to harden the candy coating.

Anyways, these are obviously pure sugar & the kiddos will be on a sugar-high for hours, but so cute, everyone loved them (except me & my dad who think marshmallows are gross) and they can be easily geared toward any theme, occasion, or holiday. I think they would be super cute for a Valentine’s Day party with pink & red sugar & some heart confetti sprinkles. Now for some Frozen party cuteness…

Food (with cute little Frozen theme names):

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Food table – it’s covered with snow flake confetti & has cute Frozen napkins & plates (If you can’t find them locally, click on the words for links to the items on Amazon.)

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This wasn’t a wonderful picture, but these cupcake toppers can be found on Amazon here.

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I think I have a picture of this cutie with her cupcake from every single birthday party her mom & I both attend. lol

Activities:

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Photo area / backyard decorations

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Elsa’s Snow Play Table (white glitter playdough)

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Kristoff’s Ice Mine (huge colored blocks of ice with little treasures (ex plastic bracelets & bouncy balls) for the kiddos to chisel out – absolutely brilliant idea especially in this hot Florida weather- we were surprised how entertained even the older kids were with this)

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Some craft fun for when the kiddos needed a break from the sun

Add a trampoline & a swing-set to the mix… and you’ve got some happy & soon worn-out kiddos!

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Instead of the traditional “goodie bag”, the kids could pick from an array of Frozen items to take home as they left. Most of these cute items can be found at your local Target’s dollar section. Sorry the picture is blurry… didn’t notice until I put it on here. :/

Hoped you liked this party theme! 🙂

#Pinch Me

As you’ve noticed, I’m a big fan of sample websites. Not only do I love free stuff (who honestly doesn’t?), I love the opportunity to try new products out before purchasing them. I hate buying an item especially something expensive without knowing if it works, it’s for me, or if it’s worth the money. I have written before about Smiley360, Buzz Agent, & Influenster in the past, but realized I had forgotten to share about Pinch Me. Now I’ll be completely honest… this isn’t my favorite freebie site for a couple of reasons… 1. The samples are often very small. While the sites I mentioned first usually offer full size items to try, Pinch Me usually sends a single serving or one of an item. I mean yes one band-aid or a travel size lotion is enough to see if you like it, but some things you have to use for a week or so to see if it really does anything. 2. Samples are only available once a month, & they go fast. 3. Shipping takes FOREVER! Now having said that, one perk of the site is you don’t have to jump through hoops like posting on social media. To keep getting samples, all you have to do is complete a feedback survey on each item that takes under a minute. You get to pick 3 samples to try each month, but then Pinch Me often adds a few extras as well. I wanted to give you my honest site review, yet don’t let it stop you from giving it a shot. You will get some great samples & coupons! Anyways, here are a couple pictures of recent boxes so you get an idea of the type of samples Pinch Me offers…

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For more information, check out the website… you can check out a list of past samples, see the next time new samples will be added, & sign up for yourself! There are surveys to take while you wait so they can best pick offers to fit your needs. Do YOU use a freebie or coupon site or money saving app that you love? Please share your knowledge with me as well! I’m always looking for ways to stretch my paycheck!!

#Pink Zebra Party #Happy Birthday Destiny 2015

Happy hump day, ya’ll! If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have been absent for a while & am playing a little catch-up on all the posts I’ve been planning on doing for months! My baby turned 9 in June this year! We celebrate every year with a huge family & friend cook-out. The month before I we started talking themes… it’s a summer party so we’ve pretty much covered the beach, summer, ocean animals, luau, etc parties in past years… Destiny is pretty easy going so she was all for doing yet another dolphin party & beach balls & sand buckets are cheap & plentiful that time of year, but I wanted to think outside of our usual themes. We usually get most of our themed party supplies online and then supplement those with Dollar Store & other local store finds. I always love getting a couple cute themed items then using a matching color scheme to tie everything together to bring it home. Not a fan of those pricey birthday in a box type things, I mean does the plates, napkins, cups, & party hats all have to match exactly…. why do you really even need party hats? lol Ok I’m getting off track… Anyways, Destiny & I decided to check out Amazon for party invitations… figured that was a good way to start brainstorming. She fell in love with some pink zebra postcard style invites, and while I was hooked on some cute owl ones, I couldn’t help but think pink, black, & zebra print… simple, girly, fun… and ideas just started popping into my head! Once she had picked the theme, she scampered off to do “funner” stuff & left me to do the planning. I mean I rock at party planning & she knows it so we’ll take that as a compliment. She did make sure I knew she must have a zebra pinata so with that as my only criteria, it was time to get ordering. A friend had recently gave me a black cupcake stand so I decided on ordering some hot-pink cupcakes from work aka Publix because they are delicious & is just one less thing I have to do. Since we were skipping a cake this year, I didn’t have to worry about a cake topper & opted for some pink zebra striped candles & a 9 candle. I quickly found that Amazon has tons of pink zebra party stuff, way more then I needed, but I couldn’t pass up adding some zebra stripe plastic table covers, confetti, & some pink & black zebra balloons. At home  we TRY to stay away from candy, but it’s a party & I always think “candy bars” are so cute so we decided to so a little one… on hind-sight we ended up with a lot of left-overs we pawned off on guest as they left so we probably could have skipped or just scaled that down, but it was so cute! So the last thing I got from Amazon were some pink unicorn pops because they are striped & it’s a zebra party… it just made sense. I got a cute plastic candy dish with a lid, pink & black gumballs, and pink sixlets in my local Target’s party section, though you can always get those on Amazon as well. I had some small pink plastic buckets & glass candle holders from a past event (Dollar Tree) to use, but decided to see what Oriental Trading had to offer in the pink zebra party department & came across some absolutely perfect pink zebra containers… couldn’t have been more perfect for the diy decorating/ candy holder idea I’ll show you in a bit! I love Oriental Trading… super cheap, large quantity items perfect for party planning, large group activities, & craft projects! Ok… I think I’ve rambled on about what I bought long enough, but I wanted you to have all the links if you like how this party turned out & were interested in using this theme yourself. Anyways… let’s get this party started…

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This is a super easy lollipop holder that you could customize to fit any party theme… all you need: lollipops of your choice (unicorn pops from Amazon), a bucket type container (got these zebra ones from Oriental Trading), floral foam (Dollar Store – available at any craft store), & paper shreds (Dollar Store – gift wrapping section of lots of other stores)… super easy to make… place foam inside container (may need to cut a bit to fit), stick your lollipops in far enough to be secure, and cover the visible foam with the paper shreds… done 🙂 This would be a cute way to display cake pops, cookies-on-a-stick, or chocolate dipped marshmallow pops… basically anything on a stick! lol

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We used some zebra duct tape (Wal-Mart) to add a little party flair to everyday water bottles.

Now some pictures of the actual party…

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I honestly didn’t get as many pictures as I’d hoped because I was busy hosting &, well, enjoying the party, but hopefully you got some great party ideas! As you can see the kids all had a blast beating the pinata, playing on the park playground, getting their faces painted, playing with balls & bubbles, & especially eating those hot pink cupcakes! While they ran wild, the adults spent time laughing, talking, talking, & stuffing our faces with way to much delicious food! Perfect way to spend any summer day…a  great party for the best 9 year old around! Happy birthday, Destiny!! ❤

#Paula Deen’s Corn Salad #4th of July 2015

When you think of the 4th of July, what comes to mind? For me, it’s 6 simple words… Freedom, Food, Family, Friends, Fun, & Fireworks! (I’m not sure why they all begin with “F”)

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I’m blessed to have wonderful friends & family to enjoy this great day with every year! Doesn’t that patriotic spread just make you hungry & grateful for all this country has to offer?! I love pot-luck type events… primarily because I love to cook & eat but also it’s a great way to try out new recipes. After sampling a delicious corn casserole this year, I had to find out who made it & get the recipe. Should have known it was one of Paula Deen’s recipes… love her country style cooking! Anyways, here is a crowd-pleaser for any cook-out occasion… and, bonus, it’s super easy & quick to make!


Paula Deen’s Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 12 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 1/2 ounce) bag coarsely crushed Fritos chili cheese corn chips

Directions:

Mix first 5 ingredients and chill. Stir in corn chips just before serving.


Yep that’s it… almost too easy… the only downside to this recipe is that it is going to go so fast that you might want to bring two! If you’d like to see a picture of the prepared casserole or would like to print the recipe, click here! Try it out at your next event & let me know what you think!

#USA Plaque

I can’t seem to get back into the habit of blogging like I once was. With school starting back, things have been super crazy around here. My daughter, Destiny, decided to kick off the 2nd week of school by getting sick & sharing those elementary school germs with her mom. After almost 3 days of doing nothing but sleeping & resting on the couch, we are finally feeling a bit better. It’s back to school for her tomorrow so she’s in bed, but due to all the extra rest, my sleep schedule is completely out of whack & when I should be getting to bed myself, I am WIDE AWAKE!! I figure I’ll wind down while I share a craft project I did for the 4th of July this year, once again better late that never! I’m not exactly sure what to call this creation… I used for the front-door but it would make a super cute wall plaque as well.

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The finished product – a super simple, country-style decoration perfect for Independence Day or all year long to show your support for this great country 🙂

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Supplies: *red, white, & blue paint *painters’ tape *paint brushes *wood plaque (I planned on making my own from an old pallet, but came across a pre-made one in the Wal-Mart craft section that looked exactly like I wanted which already had a rope attached for hanging & couldn’t pass it up – saved a bunch of time) *U, S, & A letters (wanted wood, but they only had pressed cardboard ones in stock so I settled for those – you’ll also notice that the S is smaller, not an artistic choice, I was just too inpatient to wait for them to get the bigger ones in lol) *E-6000 (definitely a good all-purpose permanent crafting glue)

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Tape along the slats for nice clean stripes.

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Paint your red stripes & allow to dry.

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Remove the tape.

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After you protect your red slats with painters’ tape, it’s time to paint the white stripes.

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Remove the painters’ tape & let your plaque dry completely. It’s time to paint your letters a nice shade of blue. I painted the front, back, & sides of these in different stages, allowing them to dry completely in between sides. Not only did I want to cover the cardboard completely for aesthetic purposes, I also wanted them to hold up in the humid Florida weather & used the paint to keep out unwanted moisture & keep this decoration in good condition for years to come.

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After all the letters were dry, I attached them to the front of my plaque with E-6000.

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I forgot to mention that I also painted the edges of the slats because, well, it just looks better that way… you might have noticed I had taped them off, but I thought it would be easier to show you the effect in this close-up.

I love craft projects & was super-thrilled with how this one turned out. I had originally planned on incorporating stars into it someway, but kind of like how simple it turned out. I’m always telling the kids that sometimes adding too many details can end up looking gaudy so I decided to take my own advice. I would love to hear what ya’ll think of this project! I know I’m a month behind, but did your family make any patriotic crafts or recipes this year? I’d love to hear about them!

#Happy 4th of July 2015 #Patriotic Star Candleholders

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Happy belated 4th of July!!

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. From fireworks to family cookouts while celebrating our country’s freedom, what’s not to love? What better to start my blogging come-back with than some super easy patriotic star candleholders? As with all my craft projects, decorating ideas, & party planning, I’m all about creating masterpieces without spending a fortune. Simple, easy, & inexpensive is the way to go!

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Patriotic Star Candleholders

I made a set of 4 of these candleholders for under $10 last year & added a cute table runner from Target this year to complete the look. Ok, let’s get started…

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Supplies:

  • glass candle holders (Dollar Tree – I used square ones.)
  • small white pillar or votive candles (Dollar Tree)
  • red & blue tissue paper
  • small paint brush
  • scissors
  • pen or pencil
  • Elmer’s glue or any craft glue that dries clear

The process is as simple as the supply list! Lightly draw draw stars on your tissue paper & cut out. I free-handed my shapes so each star varied in size & shape slightly, but if that is too difficult, you could use a stencil for more uniform stars though if you do this I’d have at least 2 size stars for some variety. I used 12 stars, 3 stars on each size, half blue & half red, but this is purely an artistic choice. I wanted just a few simple stars though more stars covering the candleholder more thoroughly & overlapping would be another cool look. Once you have your star shapes cut out, use your paint brush to simply apply a thin coat of glue to one side of your star & press on your candleholder in the desired location. Repeat til all stars are in place. Make sure corners are coated well so they don’t peal up though if this happens you can also go back & paint this corners down with a bit more glue. While the stars are damp they tear really easy so be careful, but the good thing is tissue paper is cheap & the wet glue comes off easily with a damp cloth so any mishap can be quickly fixed. Once you have added all your stars, simply allow glue to dry & add the candle of your choice. Basically it took me longer to type this than your whole project & probably even gathering the supplies did (LOL), but as you can see adding a little holiday flair doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. This idea could be easily changed up to fit any holiday. You could even give your candleholders a hot soapy water soak to remove the glue & tissue paper & reuse them. You could cut out some green shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, egg shapes for Easter, fall leaves, & maybe some holly & berries for Christmas… the possibilities are endless! Stay tuned for some other 4th of July decorating ideas & maybe a recipe or 2! 🙂