Tag Archives: DIY

Friday Favorite: Veggie Mix (1 recipe=4 meals)

29 Aug

FRIDAY Favorites

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Friday Favorites post for you fine readers! You probably already detected the reality– I took the summer off from my regularly scheduled posts: What We’re Reading Wednesdays and Friday Favorites. Well, school is back in session at the Mosley Casa, so I am hoping to get back to my regularly scheduled bi-monthly posts. Today’s Friday Favorites is one that I’ve wanted to share for a while! I made a double batch of this Veggie Mix this week, so I knew it was time! Here’s today’s Friday Favorites….

Veggie Mix


This summer marks the 3rd year that we’ve participated in a CSA in our community. What is a CSA, you ask? Read more here for a long exhaustive description. My simple explanation is that we buy a “share” of a local farmer’s produce crop, and our share of the crop is delivered weekly to a local produce store. We pick our weekly stash of fruits and veggies up on Tuesdays, and it’s almost like Christmas! Each week is a surprise! We have know idea what we will be picking up each week, so it’s always exciting. 🙂 After doing this two summers prior with the same farmer, I can anticipate what items we will receive. My hypothesis of each week’s “loot” may not be accurate, but I have learned that each CSA year we will, at some point, enjoy fresh strawberries and blueberries, cabbage, tomatoes, patty pan and spaghetti squashes, and a variety of other things. It has been an adventure in the kitchen for me each summer as I have received a variety of produce that was unknown to me! Embarassingly, I had to ask the farmer’s delivery man on more than one occasion the name of several vegetables. AND, I may or may not have googled a video on How to Cut Up a Bok Choy.  But, I digress!

Each summer, though, my excitement builds around August as I know that we’ll be showered with a ton of onions, peppers tomatoes, and eggplants. When those vegetables start appearing, it is time for me to make my Veggie Mix! I originally found this recipe in Southern Living. Its appeal was the title of the article, “Five Fast Dinners Begin with One Vegetable Mix.” Hmmm…fascinating! So, I ripped out the recipe and tried it. To summarize how this recipe works, you make a base “Veggie Mix,” and you end the day with 4 frozen packages for later use (or, you can use immediately!). The original recipe came with FIVE uniquely different recipes that can be made using one package of the “Veggie Mix” base and a few more ingredients. When I read this information, I was sold. I have been making this “Veggie Mix” for at least 5 years. Clearly, it’s a “keeper.” I love that each summer I make 8-12 frozen packages of the “Veggie Mix,” and we, literally, eat on it all winter!

Today, l share my version of the “Veggie Mix” recipe, and you can visit Southern Living’s website for the original version that contains the 5 different recipes–Individual Pizzas, Greek-Style Chicken Stew, Shrimp with Rice, Beef and Vegetable Supper (aka “Spaghetti” in our house), and Black Bean Soup–to make using your “Veggie Mix” base. We have tried all of the recipes except the Individual Pizzas. When I make either of the other 4 recipes, I love that the final meal tastes entirely different than the other, unused recipes. So, you can make this mixture on Sunday afternoon and enjoy 4 different meals that week. I promise that while eating the Black Bean Soup you won’t think, “Hmmm…this tastes just like the Greek-Style Chicken Stew expect it has black beans instead of chicken.” The recipes and tastes are unique. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

photo (35)This week’s bounty. I doubled the recipe for 8 frozen packages to enjoy this winter!


Veggie Mix (adapted from this Southern Living recipe)

1-2 onions, chopped
4 bell peppers, chopped (I use a mixture of green, yellow, red, and orange.)
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil (I use either.)
1 large eggplant, chopped
3 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes (or in the summer I use fresh tomatoes)
1/4 cup Greek seasoning (I make my own.)

1) Saute onions, peppers, and eggplant in oil 5-10 minutes, until cooked.
2) Add in tomatoes and Greek seasoning.
3) I bring to boil and then, turn down to lowest setting and simmer 15-20 minutes. This makes my house smell heavenly, so sometimes, I let it simmer a while!
4) Spoon 3 cups of Veggie Mix into freezer bag. Does this to create a total of 4 bags.
5) Freeze the 4 freezer bags of the “Veggie Mix.”  The original recipe says to freeze up to one month. Ummmmm, confession, I keep mine longer than a month in my freezer. 🙂
When you are ready to make one of the 5 recipes (Individual Pizzas, Black Bean Soup, Greek-Style Chicken Stew, Shrimp and Rice or Spaghetti) consult the original recipe for those directions. I usually pull out a ziploc bag of the “Veggie Mix” the day before I need it. I let it thaw on a plate (to avoid spills/leaks) in my fridge.

photo (32)

Aren’t these pepper beautiful?!!?

Additional hint: I pulverize my veggies! The first few times I made this recipe I chopped the peppers, onions and eggplant by hand. My sons were able to “sort through” the veggies and pick out what they didn’t like. (Awesome! Grr!) I got a little wiser and started pulverizing the veggies in my food proccessor! Now, they can’t organize the vegetables by peppers, onions and eggplant and “fish” them out to avoid eating. 🙂 I love the yumminess and healthiness that they are ingesting every time we enjoy a “Veggie Mix” recipe! Here’s a picture of what the pulverized veggies look like:


I feel so “Sneaky Chef-ish.” 🙂 🙂 Please don’t tell my boys this little secret. Let’s just keep it between us, okay?

I’m excited to share this Friday Favorite with you! If you make this “Veggie Mix,” stop back by and comment below to let me know how you like it!




CC Tutor Resource: DIY Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board

8 Jun

Tri-fold Dry Erase Board


I could NOT have made it through my first two years as a Classical Conversations Tutor without this handy, dandy Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board! When a new Tutor asks me the first thing he/she needs to do to prepare to tutor, I immediately burst out with this, “Make a Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board!” Even if you are not a part of Classical Conversations, I would still recommend making one of these to use at home! You will be surprised how many uses you will find for it! It’s inexpensive and simple to make!

To see how to make your own and how I use it in class, read this post from the archives! Enjoy!

Hey fellow CC Tutors? What is your favorite resource(s) for class?!?!?

Friday Favorites: Energy Bites (aka “Chocolate Chip Balls”)

16 May

FRIDAY Favorites

I have three sons. Their current ages are 8, 6, and 4. My sons eat massive quantities of food. I spend hours each day preparing food for them (of course!), but I spend equal amounts of my day brainstorming ways that I can earn a 6-figure income in the next year or two. Why, you ask? It’s not because I’m desirous of a larger home or a sweeter swagger wagon mini van. No, my reasons for seeking a 6-figure income is because our sons are eating us out of house and home! It’s time to increase the grocery budget! ha! 🙂 I can’t fathom how much food they’ll consume (or how much the food will cost!) when they are all teenagers. Wow. Mind blowing.

To satiate their little  ever expanding tummies, I have started force feeding  serving them these yummy Energy Bites! We’ve actually dubbed them “Chocolate Chip Balls” around our house. They never turn away a recipe with “chocolate chip” in the title. Between the protein from the peanut butter and the fiber from the oats and milled flax seed, my boys can go longer than ten minutes without a snack! ha! Honestly, 4 or 5 of these, and the boys are good to go for an hour of two. (And Moms everywhere are cheering with joy!)

Another plus–these are very easy to make! I must warn you, though. These are very addictive!!! I have no self-control when I eat these bad boys. I promise myself that I’ll only eat one….and half the mixture later, I realize I’ve broken my self-promise. hahahaha! AND…a special shout out to my dear friend Melanie who gave me this recipe. Best recipe ever!

This recipe is so delightful the energy bites magically arranged themselves on my plate in this design. Isn’t that amazing?image

Energy Bites

1 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1 cup honey
3 cups oats
1/2 cup milled flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or in this case butterscotch, which is all I had!)
other optional “add ins”–sliced almonds, rice krispy cereal, cheerios, raisins, craisins. It’s very versatile!

1) Mix all the ingredients together.

2) Form into balls and serve. (I use this to scoop them out.)

3) The recipe instructions are over, but I wanted to include another “tip” about this recipe. 🙂 You can line them on a cookie sheet and through them in your freezer to flash freeze them. Once frozen, throw them into a ziploc bag. Now, you can pop them out of the freezer anytime! Going on a road trip? Throw several frozen energy bites in a ziploc bag. They will thaw as you’re traveling, and viola! Snacks in the car! We use these a lot in the summer before heading out to swim. Swimming=even MORE ravenous sons. 🙂 Energy bites=ravenous boys satiated=happy Mom. 🙂

I’m not even going to lie. This picture makes me so happy. I feel like I was channeling my inner Pioneer Woman when I took this photo. Doesn’t she always have the most magical food photos? I try not to covet her mad Kodak skills. Thanks to Apple and the iPad Mini for helping me reach my goal of channeling my inner Pioneer Woman. I’m sure it will take me at least 2 to 3 more years to take another cool “foodie” photo again. So, until then, I’ll just keep staring at this one. And…I digress.

imageThe finished product! I may or may not have eaten all of these as soon as I finished snapping their photo. Oops!


Friday Favorites: Southwest Cheesecake

2 May

FRIDAY Favorites

As I promised in last week’s Friday Favorites, here’s my other favorite cheesecake recipe. It’s called Southwest Cheesecake, and it is of the salty cheesecake variety. As with most recipes that I try, I am not certain what possessed me to try it! I am not a cheesecake fan, and I had no clue that salty cheesecakes existed. What possessed me to give this recipe a whirl? I’m thinking the biggest contributing factor was my husband’s love for cheesecake! Regardless of the reason for trying the recipe, I am so, so, so, so glad that I did! It’s fabulous! 

Southwest Cheesecake
Here are several reasons why I adore this recipe:
*It’s always a crowd pleaser. This recipe is delicious, in case you were curious! Every time I take this cheesecake to a gathering someone asks for the recipe! That always makes me a happy chef. 🙂
*It feeds an army. This is a great appetizer to take to or to serve at a party, event, or gathering. It’s almost as if the cheesecake multiplies as it is served. The cheesecake goes a long way. It is a crowd pleaser and feeds that crowd handily.
*It’s best to make it ahead. I get stressed out when I’m taking “party food” to a gathering. I usually make a dish the day of the event, but I’m always fearful that a recipe might flop. Then, if the recipe does flop, what would I take to the party?!?! The Southwest Cheesecake has made my “party food” anxiety fade away. The Southwest Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated for several hours, so it’s actually best if I make it the day before the gathering I’m attending. This recipe makes me stress free the day of the event because I already have the Southwest Cheesecake made! Plus, if the recipe flops, though it never has for me, I have ample time to remake the recipe before the event. Don’t you love being stress free?!?!? I do! 🙂
*It’s easy to make. I wrote in last week’s Banana Pudding Cheesecake post that making a cheesecake is actually super simple! The Southwest Cheesecake falls into that same category: cheesecakes=easy to make.

Southwest Cheesecake

adapted from Southern Living’s version

1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz. package. I use Nefuchatel cream cheese.)
2 cups Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese (depending on your “spice” level), shredded
2 cups sour cream (or one 16 oz. container of sour cream), divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups salsa
Guacamole or salsa, to garnish
2 bags of tortilla chips


1) Crush tortilla chips until you have 1 1/2 cups. (Kitchen Tip: I put whole tortilla chips into a ziploc bag and crush them with a kitchen hammer until I have the correct amount.)

This is what the tortilla chips look like before I use the kitchen hammer…

This is what the tortilla chips look like after I release a little aggression via my kitchen hammer. ha! 🙂


2) Combine melted butter and crushed tortilla chips. Press into bottom of greased, 9 inch springform pan.

3) Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

4) Remove crust from oven and cool on wire rack.

5) Combine cream cheese and shredded Monterrey jack cheese and beat with mixer until well combined.

6) Add 1 cup of sour cream and mix until combined.

7) Add eggs one at a time into existing mixture until well combined. Stir in salsa and pour into prepared crust. It should look something like this…


8) Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until the center is almost set. I shake the cheesecake, if it still “jiggles” in the center I cook additionally for 2 minutes (and repeat) until the center only slightly moves. It should look something like this. If there are craters or cracks on the top, no worries! They will be covered up. 🙂


9) Let cheesecake stand for 10 minutes on wire rack. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the edge of the cheesecake from the springform pan. Cool completely.

10) Spread remaining 1 cup sour cream onto top of Southwest Cheesecake. Cool, minimally, 3 hours or up to 1 day.


11) Additional toppings of guacamole or salsa can be added onto the sour cream as a garnish before serving. Serve with tortilla chips. Here’s a tip with this salty cheesecake–do not cut the cheesecake into wedges and serve as you would a sweet cheesecake. Use a spoon to scoop out desired amount to serve.

I made this recipe last week for our Classical Conversations End of Year Celebration. I was hoping to include with this blog post a picture of my finished Southwest Cheesecake with the additional toppings I included before serving. However, sadly, the Southwest Cheesecake fell on the floor of our van en route to our house after our End of Year Celebration. Yes, it made a magnificent mess in our van, and no, I did not get a “finished product” picture for you. 😦 I did manage to capture a picture of the Southwest Cheesecake in the trash bag shortly after the beautiful, amazing, tasteful cheesecake crashed onto our van floor. There it is in the lower right hand corner of the picture. Wishing the picture of the Southwest Cheesecake could be better, but for now, this one will have to do. 🙂 ha!


Enjoy this yummy recipe!

Friday Favorites: Banana Pudding Cheesecake

25 Apr

FRIDAY Favorites

When my husband and I were engaged, like most engaged couples, we created a wedding registry filled with items needed to establish our home. On a trip to a well known retail chain to create our wedding registry, we had the following conversation.

“We must register for a springform pan, ” my then fiance’ declares.

“A springform WHAT?!?!?” I inquire.

“You know, a springform pan,” he insists.

“A springform pan,” I slowly repeated with my mind racing. Dare I confess that I have no idea what it is? Will he love me even if I don’t know what a springform pan is? My palms start sweating, and I try not to hyperventilate.

“It’s the pan you need to make a cheesecake,” he informs.

“Gotcha!” I nod in affirmation and confidently pretend that I know what he’s referring to.

He took me down the Kitchen aisle and showed me this:

  I dared not mention that I had never seen a springform pan fearing that this was a deal breaker for marriage. I, again, confidently pretended to act like the springform pan and I were BFFs. In that moment, I made a mental note listing 3 important points: 1) Future husband loves cheesecake. 2) Find a tutor to teach me how to use said springform pan.
3) Find someone to teach me how to make cheesecake ASAP.

Thankfully, my fiance’ didn’t ask for the ring back when he discovered that the springform pan and I weren’t BFFs and had never met previously. Whew! With twelve years of marriage under our belts, I have not forgotten important point #1: my husband loves cheesecake. His love of cheesecake has led me on a quest for the perfect cheesecake recipe. I’ve tried various and sundry cheesecake recipes. Some were heavenly. Some were not.

For today’s and next week’s Friday Favorites, I will share our 2 favorite cheesecake recipes. One is sweet and one is salty. (Yes, you read that right! Have you ever heard of a salty cheesecake??!!?!? It’s amazing! Come back next Friday for that recipe!). Without further adieu, let me introduce you to our favorite sweet cheesecake: the Banana Pudding Cheesecake.

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

 Banana Pudding Cheesecake

adapted from Southern Living’s version

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
17 vanilla wafers (Yes, there is a reason that 17 vanilla wafers are specified.)
2 large bananas, chopped (ripe to overripe bananas work best)
1 TBSP. lemon juice
2 TBSP. light brown sugar
3 packages cream cheese (8 oz. package. I use Nefuchatel cream cheese)
1 cup granulated sugar (I scale it back to 1/2 cup)
3 eggs
1/2 cup vanilla wafers, crushed

1) Demolish vanilla wafers until you have 1 1/2 cups crumbs. (Kitchen Tip: I put whole vanilla wafers into a ziploc bag and crush them with a kitchen hammer until I have the correct amount.)

2) Combine melted butter and vanilla wafer crumbs. Press into bottom of greased, 9 inch springform pan. Take the 17 whole vanilla wafers and press them securely into the crust around the perimeter of the springform pan. (The curved side of the vanilla wafer should be against the pan’s edge.) It should look something like this…

photo (23)

3) Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the crust cool completely.

4) While crust is cooling, combine chopped bananas and lemon juice and add to sauce pan. Over medium heat, add in brown sugar and stir constantly until brown sugar has melted. This should only take about a minute.

5) Beat cream cheese with a mixer. Add in sugar followed by eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Stir in cooked bananas into cream cheese mixture. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust.

6) Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until the center is almost firm. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to pull it away from pan’s edge. After I loosen the cheesecake from the pan’s edge, I pop open the springform pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 crushed vanilla wafers onto top of cheesecake. Cool on wire rack for about an hour. Cover and chill overnight.

And…that’s it! A cheesecake is much easier to make than I realized those many years ago when I was an engaged gal. If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, it makes it even easier!  Don’t be afraid to make a cheesecake! I have been pleasantly surprised at how little effort it takes, and everyone will think you’re a professional chef! (Shhhhh, it’s our little secret! Don’t tell them how simple it is!) I made this for Thanksgiving, and my family asked where I bought it. That was a glorious moment in my (non-existent) cooking career. 🙂

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls-in your bread maker (or NOT in your bread maker if you don’t have one!)

22 Nov


If you’ve been following the conversations going on over at the Suzanne Shares Facebook Page, you’ll remember that I promised to post my Pumpkin Rolls recipe. These rolls have become a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition in our home. This week I have been making lots of these as I gear up to host my family and my in laws for Thanksgiving. I thought I would share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you while I’m cooking!

I love these Pumpkin Dinner Rolls for a multitude of reasons! First and foremost, these rolls are scrumptious! You can’t eat just one. (You’ve been forewarned!) Plus, the pumpkin gives the rolls a brilliant golden color.  Any time that I make these rolls, I have requests for the recipe. (That’s always a good sign!) Another perk with this recipe is that it’s a great “make ahead” or “freezer” recipe. You can easily make them ahead of time, bake them, and freeze them. When reheating and serving them at a later date, you are not sacrificing taste. They come out of the oven tasting like you made them that day! The final reason for my adoration of this recipe is that it can be made in your bread maker using the Dough cycle! My bread maker (this one by Sunbeam) is one of my top 5 “must haves” in the kitchen appliance category. No, I’m not an amazing, I-should-have-my-own-show-on-Food-Network kind of cook, particularly when it comes to bread. However, thanks to my bread maker people think that I am–wink, wink. Let’s keep this as our little secret. 🙂

The original recipe is from Tammy’s Recipes blog. You’ll note in the comments that someone posted about using the recipe in a bread maker. This inspired me to try it in my bread maker, and it worked! I didn’t follow the instructions per the Comments section exactly, so I wanted to post my bread maker adaptation of the recipe.  Don’t forget to pin this recipe because you will definitely want to make it over Thanksgiving or Christmas! I have included an abundance of pictures for those of you who are new to making rolls from scratch. Again, the bread maker takes all of the hardship and guess work out of bread making, which is why I’m a huge fan of bread makers! (I have a gargantuan fear of recipes with yeast, so if I can do this, you can too!) First, I’ll list the recipe, and the step-by-step picture montage will follow.

Pumpkin Rolls (for your bread maker)
Yields 30-36 rolls
1 cup warm milk (warm to the touch, not HOT. Extremely hot water will kill the yeast, FYI)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup pumpkin (I love this kind, and yes, I buy it a case at a time. No, I’m not weird.)
5 cups All Purpose or Bread flour (King Arthur is my favorite, and the price shown here on Amazon is HIGH. Wowzers. Just posting for reference! You can definitely find it cheaper elsewhere.)
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. yeast (I buy yeast in bulk @ Costco. I keep it refrigerated to keep the large quantity preserved.)

Add the ingredients to your bread maker in the order listed above. Set to “DOUGH” cycle and start your engines machine. At the end of your DOUGH cycle, just know that the dough may slightly rise out of the container. (See picture below. HA!) After forming the rolls and placing on a baking sheet, let rise 30 minutes. After rising, bake @ 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Top with butter and serve immediately.

To freeze: cool completely and place inside freezer bag. Throw in your freezer.

To reheat and serve: Thaw completely. I usually pull them out of the freezer 24 hours in advance. Wrap in aluminum foil or place on a baking sheet, covered with foil. Reheat @ 350 degrees 8-10 minutes, or until warmed. Brush the tops with butter and serve immediately.


This is what the dough looked like at the end of the DOUGH cycle.


I dumped the dough onto my Silpat mat to start the task of making rolls. The dough does not stick to the Silpat mat. Oh, what a delight and joy my Silpat is! (Thanks for recommending the Silpat, Annie Laurie!)


Next, I form the dough into a rectangle as shown here.


I use my dough knife to cut the dough into four sections. No dough knife? Use a pizza cutter. I try to make them “equal,” but I’m not as gifted at that as I would like to be. 🙂


I work with the four sections one at a time. I cut one section in half as shown above.


I take the two halves and cut them into 7-9 rolls. Therefore, each of the 4 sections yields about 30-36 rolls, which is always my goal with this recipe.


I roll the rolls between my hands in a circular motion to form them into smooth round shapes. I place them side by side, slightly touching on a baking pan. I use this pan.

Here are the rolls all beautiful and ready to rise! I’m still working on my technique for forming the rolls. Mine are always a million different sizes, but no one eating them seems to mind. 🙂


Here’s what these beauties look like after 30 minutes of rising.


Here’s what they look like fresh out of the oven. Yes, you are correct. There are 4 missing rolls between the previous picture and this one above. I know not [SWALLOW] why.imageTo freeze, I break the rolls apart into 1 dozen sections. I place them in a 2.5 gallon freezer bag, leaving space between each dozen, and throw in the freezer. When I’m ready to serve these, I thaw 24 hours in advance, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat @ 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until warmed. Top with butter, and enjoy!

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Advent Calendar–Heart Felt Truths–10% off coupon code

22 Oct

When I read Treasuring God in Our Traditions for the first time 8 years ago, I was intrigued by the Advent Calendar that Noel Piper mentions in the book. After a few short clicks at the Desiring God website, I had an Advent Calendar ordered and heading straight to my house. Two months later was Christmas, and we used it that first year. Our son was 5 1/s months old. He had no idea what we were doing or saying, but we did it anyway. Twelve months later we did it again; he enjoyed velcro-ing the item each night. In 2 months, we will go through the same Advent Calendar again for an 8th year. My boys are giddy when I get out the cardboard box each year. I love traditions.

Sadly, the Advent Calendar mentioned in Treasuring God in Our Traditions is no longer for sale from Desiring God. It is one of the two Advent Calendars that we use each year. When I was writing about the Advent Calendar last year, I happily discovered Heart Felt Truths (thank you, Google!). On her website you can download FREE patterns to MAKE THIS ADVENT CALENDAR! Wahoo!! Last year, I had several Suzanne Shares readers make their own Advent Calendars using the FREE patterns, and they were ADORABLE! I loved seeing the pictures of the Advent Calendars and their cute kiddos using them! 🙂

Over the past year, I have gotten to know Whitney, the gifted, amazing seamstress and creator behind Heart Felt Truths. She gave me the wonderful opportunity of reviewing her Easter Banner, and I just love, love, love her stuff! If making your own Noel Piper Advent Calendar (as I like to call it) using Heart Felt Truths FREE patterns sounds intimidating, the GREAT news is that Whitney sells DIY Kits for $16 at her ETSY Shop. Or, you can buy a completed set for $45. Whitney has graciously offered Suzanne Shares readers a 10% COUPON CODE (YAY!! Thank you, Whitney!)

for 10% off (expiration 10/31/13)

I love gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I love traditions like this Advent Calendar that we use again and again and again! YAY for living life on purpose!

Handprint THANKFUL Tree

22 Oct

Handprint Thanksgiving TreeI am digging this post out of last year’s archives!

It’s that time of year again–time for our family’s Handprint Thankful Tree! We use this each day in November, and it has become one of my FAVORITE traditions for our family. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be tracing and cutting 30 hands per family member to be ready for November 1. This is VERY simple, but the routine, discipline, cadence of taking each day in November to verbalize something that we thank God for is etching in our sons’ minds and hearts (and their parents) that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV) A simple, yet monumental tool used to thank and glorify God–I love that about our Handprint Thankful Tree!

This will be our third year to have a Handprint Thankful Tree. I haven’t had the heart to throw away our handprints from the past 2 years. I love going through the “old ones” each year when I get out our “tree trunk,” which I store with the previous years’ handprints. First, I almost BAWL my eyes out when I see how tiny my sons’ hands were. (MERCY, I can’t handle how quickly they’re growing up!) After I have a crying session, I read over what was written previously, the things that we were thankful for in the past. It is a blessed reminder of God’s abiding faithfulness to me and our family. Then, my tears start again! I love that traditions help us remember. Which reminds me, are you joining in on this month’s Book Club as we read, “Treasuring God in our Traditions?” If not, you should be! Don’t worry that the month is more than half over; the main point is that you need to read this book–so inspiring, instructive!

Read the original post to find instructions for making your own and how our family uses this each November. Also, last year, I wrote an entire series of posts about Thanksgiving, if you are interested, you can read all of the posts by clicking here.

And….you guys reading my little blog, I’m thankful for YOU! You’ll be on one of my handprints this year!

Egg Carton Multiplication and Skip Counting Game–FREE PRINTABLE

5 Oct


If you missed my post earlier in the week highlighting the Egg Carton Multiplication and Skip Counting Game that we use ’round our house, you can read more about it here.

GREAT NEWS for those of you wanting to make this for your kiddos, Brandy from Half a Hundred Acre Wood made a printable with ALL of the numbers needed for skip counting/multiplying the 1s, 2s, 3s,…all the way to the 15s AND including the squares and cubes! 🙂 One of the fun things about creating this blog a year ago is that I’ve gotten to make fun friends out in the blogosphere. I even got to meet Brandy this summer @ our CC Practicum; she was our tutor trainer (how awesome is that?!?!) She’s just as wonderful, humble, enthusiastic, and caring in person as evidenced and exuded by her blog. She graciously emailed me the file to share with all of YOU! Download the file, print it (I would probably laminate it…because I laminate everything! ha!), number your egg carton, and you’re set! SO EASY! 

—>>Here’s the file! Click to download: skip-count-cards <<—

Also, two other quick suggestions:
1) 1 and 1/2 dozen egg carton–Brandy wisely used an 18-egg carton when she made hers at home. This allows for skip counting/multiplying the 13s, 14s, and 15s. GREAT idea, Brandy! You’ll see this picture in the file download.

2) Sytrofoam vs. Cardboard Egg Cartons–salmonella can “live” in the cardboard egg cartons, so go with a styrofoam one if you can. We normally use a styrofoam one, but it got left @ CC on Monday after we skip counted the 12s with my Abecedarians. This cardboard one was improvised for the picture. 🙂

DIY: Egg Carton Multiplication or Skip Counting Game

3 Oct

I am a visual learner. I’ve confessed it. 🙂 This means I think in pictures in my brain. No, I’m not weird. (right?!?!?) I’m sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about! ha! Last year when I was teaching my sweet, little Abecedarians how to skip count the 12s, I brought egg cartons to class. We all marched around the room singing “12, 24, 36, 48,…” while we paraded our egg cartons in the air. I thought it would be a fun visual for them to see that when they buy eggs, they’re buying a dozen, or 12 eggs. If my sweet, little Abecedarians ever need to count multiple egg cartons to see how many eggs they have, they can sing and count “12, 24, 36, ….”

As we marched around the room in my CC Class, I had an epiphany! We learned the first 12 numbers of every skip counting set–1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, etc. I immediately visualized this “Egg Carton Multiplication” or “Egg Carton Skip Counting” game in my mind. I went home that afternoon and made it.

DIY Egg Carton Multiplication or Skip Counting Game

Here’s how you can make your own! I’m sure you’ll have each of these supplies already at home. Don’t you love that?!?!? Also, if you have older children have them assist you in making this! They will be even more excited to use it because they helped make it!

Supplies needed: 1 egg carton (number the bottom of your carton 1-12), construction paper, sharpie/marker, and ziploc bags (for storage) or go here for a FREE PRINTABLE of all the needed number tiles so that you don’t have to take time to make your own!


1) Number your egg carton–Use a Sharpie or marker to number the 12 compartments in the egg carton.

Image2) Make your number tiles–I cut out 12 small squares (small enough to fit into the individual egg compartment) and 1 large square out of the same color construction paper. On the large square, I put the number that we were Skip Counting. In the example here, you’ll see the “11.”


I, then, numbered the 12 small squares–11, 22, 33, 44…up to 132. I made number tiles for the 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, etc. up to the 15s.

Side note: For Skip Counting the 13s, 14s, and 15s, they memorize beyond 13×12, 14×12, and 15×12. For those 3 examples, I had my sons put the remaining tiles in order following the “12” container on the outside of the egg carton.


3) Storage–Store your Skip Counting tiles in ziploc bags. I put 4 sets in each ziploc bag and made sure that the 4 sets were different colors. This allowed me to quickly sort which numbers go with which set. I keep all of my ziploc sets in a File Folder for easy access to use during my school day.

How to use the Egg Carton Multiplication or Skip Counting Game at home

I used this game with my sons for the remaining weeks of our school year to review their Skip Counting songs. The other plus with this game is that my boys could play it independently because they could recognize their numbers. (If your child has not mastered number recognition for larger numbers, you may need to do this activity together with your child.) I always enjoy an independent, educational activity for my sons. This frees me up to do other instruction with another son while confidently, peacefully knowing that my other son is actually learning something (instead of running around wildly, clad only in underwear, picking his nose. This may or may not have happened in my home before….but I digress.)


For skip counting: I give my sons the 12 small tiles and the egg carton. I tape the large tile with the number we’re “skip counting” onto the top of the egg carton. In the example above, we’re skip counting the “11s.” He, then, has to put the small tiles in the correct order in the egg carton.


For multiplication: I would do this activity with my child to ensure that he/she is reviewing the multiplication facts. For example, you can ask your child, “What is 11×4?” He/she would find the answer and have to put the correct small tile inside the “4” compartment of the egg carton. This is also a great visual allowing him/her to see the large “11” tile, the “4” written in the egg compartment and the “44” written on the small tile. Hopefully, this is further cementing “11×4=44” into his/her brain!

I hope this is a helpful, frugal, easy-to-make resource for your home that helps your child master skip counting and multiplication!

This post is part of a Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Link-Up over at Half A Hundred Acre Wood. Click below to find other Cycle 2 resources.
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