10 Healthy make-ahead Thanksgiving side dishes

The air is getting crisp and cold and we are getting out our sweaters and boots. You know what that means, it’s almost Thanksgiving! Living in Arizona during this time of year is so beautiful, you have the red mountains in the background, the cacti is perky and the air is cool. It really doesn’t get cool here until after Halloween. In fact, I still have yet to actually put a sweater on. But am I getting out my Thanksgiving platters and trying out different table placements and recipes, you betcha!

I try not to spoil all the hard work I put in throughout the year of eating right and not over indulging. Thanksgiving is all about over indulging so I figured I better find some recipes I wont feel so guilty getting a second serving of. These are a compilation of what I have found, pick out a few and try them this year!

1. Oven-Roasted Squash with Garlic & Parsley

ma1From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2009

Winter squash becomes tender and sweeter when roasted—a delicious side for a holiday dinner. Look for interesting squash like kabocha or hubbard at your farmers’ market and try them in this recipe. Recipe adapted from Alice Waters.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds winter squash (such as butternut, buttercup, kabocha or hubbard), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 °F.

Toss squash with 4 teaspoons oil, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender throughout and lightly browned, 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the variety of squash).

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Toss the roasted squash with the garlic and parsley. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Make Ahead Tip: Cut squash up to 1 day ahead; store airtight in the refrigerator.

Kitchen Tip: Make it easier to cut a pumpkin, acorn squash or other winter squash: pierce in several places with a fork; microwave on High for 45 to 60 seconds. Use a large sharp knife to cut in half. Remove the seeds and stringy fibers with a spoon.

Cut Down on Dishes: A rimmed baking sheet is great for everything from roasting to catching accidental drips and spills. For effortless cleanup and to keep your baking sheets in tip-top shape, line them with a layer of foil before each use.

2. Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Fontina Tart

ma2 From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2009

Try this roasted-vegetable free-form tart as an appetizer or side dish for a special dinner or as a vegetarian main dish. The pastry dough is very forgiving and quite easy to roll out on parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. The walnut-studded crust is crisper served warm, but you can enjoy the tart at room temperature or cold too.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons ice-cold water

Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup shredded fontina or Cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 °F.

To prepare crust: Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Combine in a large bowl with whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons thyme and/or rosemary, 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Make a well in the center and add 1/2 cup oil and water. Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to form a soft dough (it will seem wetter than other types of pastry dough). Knead in the bowl just until the dough comes together. Pat it into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 days.

To prepare filling: Combine sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Spread on three-fourths of a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss onion in the bowl with 1 teaspoon oil. Spread evenly on the remaining one-fourth of the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce temperature to 375 °.

Line a work surface with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat, lightly dust with flour and dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a rustic 15-inch circle, adding more flour, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Transfer the crust to a baking sheet with the parchment or baking mat in place.

Leaving a 2-inch border, sprinkle cheese evenly over the crust. Make an overlapping ring of the larger sweet potato slices over the cheese, leaving the 2-inch border. Spread the onion slices in another ring closer to the center. Using the rest of the sweet potato slices, make an overlapping circle in the center of the crust (the pattern will look like a bull’s-eye). Pick up the edges of the crust using a spatula and fold over the filling, making pleats in the dough as necessary (it’s okay if the dough cracks a little as you fold it); the filling will not be completely covered. Brush the crust with the egg-white wash. Drizzle the vegetables with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon thyme and/or rosemary.

Bake the tart until lightly browned on the edges, about 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the crust (Step 2), wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Cool, cover and refrigerate the baked tart for up to 1 day. Reheat at 350°F for about 20 minutes.

Ingredient Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour has less gluten-forming potential than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure tender baked goods. Find it in the baking section of the supermarket.

3. Creamed Spinach Casserole

am3From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2012

This creamy spinach casserole recipe is a more sophisticated cousin to creamed spinach. It’s perfect for weekend entertaining or as a holiday side dish.

Ingredients

  • 3 10-ounce packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Press spinach in a mesh strainer to get out as much moisture as possible. Pulse in a food processor until very finely chopped.

Combine milk, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup Cheddar, cottage cheese and the spinach.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer, slowly increasing the speed, until they begin to foam. Continue to beat until the whites hold their shape; do not over beat. (You’ll know they are ready when you lift the beaters out and the peak doesn’t flop over.)

Gently fold the whites into the spinach mixture with a rubber spatula until uniform. (It’s OK if a few white streaks remain.) Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar; continue baking until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare Steps 2 & 3, refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before folding in egg whites.

4. Fennel, Citrus & Roasted Beet Salad

am4.jpgFrom: EatingWell Magazine January/February 2014

The sweetness of the roasted beets works well with tart grapefruit in this healthy beet salad recipe. Turn this beet salad into an entree by adding seared scallops or white fish, such as halibut or cod.

Ingredients

  • 2 small-to-medium golden beets
  • 2 small-to-medium red beets
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, plus whole leaves and flowers or fennel fronds for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium pink or red grapefruit
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 °F.

Wrap beets in foil and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 40 minutes to 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel, trim and cut into wedges.

Whisk oil, mustard, vinegar, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Slice both ends off grapefruit. With a sharp knife, remove the peel and white pith; discard. Working over the bowl, cut the segments from their surrounding membranes. (Discard membranes). Repeat with orange. Add fennel and the beets. Toss to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve topped with pistachios and cilantro leaves and flowers or fennel fronds, if desired.

Make Ahead Tip: To make ahead: Roast beets (Steps 1-2), peel and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before adding to salad.

5. Cornbread Stuffing with Brussels Sprouts & Squash

am5From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2011

Brussels sprouts and winter squash make this cornbread stuffing look and taste great. You may need to bake two batches of cornbread to have 2 pounds for this recipe—you can even make it the day before.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds winter squash, such as buttercup or butternut
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds prepared cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 cup currants, raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped and toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, rubbed and sliced
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

Preparation

Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 375 °F.

Halve squash, remove seeds and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges (leave the skin on). Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, rubbing to coat the squash evenly. Roast on the lower rack until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool. Peel, cut into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, spread cornbread cubes on a large baking sheet. Toast on the upper rack until crisp around the edges, about 20 minutes. Add to the bowl with the squash.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and add to the bowl. Add currants (or raisins or cranberries), pecans, chives, parsley and sage. Add broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bake the stuffing until heated through, 45 to 55 minutes.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate the roasted squash for up to 2 days. Store the toasted cornbread uncovered at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Easy cleanup: To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you bake.

6. Potato & Sweet Potato Torte

ma6.jpgFrom: EatingWell Magazine Fall 2003

Layers of potatoes and sweet potatoes meld into an impressive vegetable “cake” that forms a golden crust during baking. Serve as a vegetarian centerpiece or with roast poultry or pork.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed (see Tip) and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, (about 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound all-purpose potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold (2-4 medium), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

Preparation

Position oven rack at the lowest level; preheat to 450 °F. Coat a 9 1/2-inch, deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper or foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and thyme; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. (If necessary, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to prevent scorching.) Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Arrange half the sweet potato slices, slightly overlapping, in the prepared pie pan and season with a little of the remaining salt and pepper. Spread one-third of the leeks over the top. Arrange half the potato slices over the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Top with another third of the leeks. Layer the remaining sweet potatoes, leeks and potatoes in the same manner. Cover the pan tightly with foil.

Bake the torte until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the torte to loosen it. Invert onto a serving plate. Remove paper or foil and serve.

Make Ahead Tip: The torte will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350°f oven.

Tip: To clean leeks: Trim and discard coarse green tops. Split leeks lengthwise with a sharp knife, beginning about 1 inch from the root end and cutting toward the green end. Leave root end attached. Swish leeks repeatedly in a basin of cold water to remove grit. Alternatively, trim roots and ragged tops. Slice leeks and place in plenty of water, then drain. Repeat a few times. The slices do not absorb water or lose flavor and the process is faster.

7. Butternut Squash Gratin

ma7From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2011

Roasted butternut squash slices layered with a creamy sauce and topped with golden breadcrumbs makes a hassle-free side dish that just about everyone loves. Our healthier version skips the heavy cream and butter found in most recipes—saving about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat compared to a traditional version.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 8 cups)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tips) or 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese

Preparation

Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 °F.

Toss squash in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See Tips)

When the squash is done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.

Transfer half the squash to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the squash. Add the remaining squash and top with the remaining sauce.

Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).

Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the gratin. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the gratin is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Roast squash (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the squash.

Tips: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs.

To add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.

Keep food fresh: If you’re storing food in your fridge for a few hours or more, it’s best to keep it in an airtight container or in a container covered tightly with foil. Foil is best at creating a barrier that doesn’t let unwanted flavors in (or out) while you store your food.

8. Cranberry Sauce with Star Anise

ma8From: EatingWell Magazine November/December 2012

This cranberry sauce recipe is scented with star anise, which has a dynamic flavor—earthy, spicy and sweet at the same time.

Ingredients

  • 10 whole star anise (see Tip)
  • 2 12-ounce bags cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2/3 cup orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

Preparation

Place star anise in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with a piece of kitchen string. Combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest and juice in a medium saucepan. Add the star anise bundle and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove star anise before serving. Serve warm or chilled.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Equipment: Cheesecloth, kitchen string

Tip: Look for the star-shaped anise pods in the bulk-spice sections of natural-foods stores, in Asian markets or online.

9. Cauliflower with New Mornay Sauce

ma9.jpgFrom: EatingWell Magazine Holiday Issue 1996

A topping of Mornay sauce is a delicious treatment for numerous vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, fennel, Belgian endive, to name a few. In our revised version, we have replaced some of the high-fat cheeses and cream with low-fat cottage cheese, which contributes a rich dairy flavor without the fat. Even children will eat cauliflower prepared this way.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, (about 1 3/4 pounds), cut into large florets
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyère
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned fine dry breadcrumbs

Preparation

Set rack in upper portion of oven; preheat to 375 °F. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking or gratin dish with cooking spray.

Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until tender but not soft, 5 to 7 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 1 to 3 minutes.)

Refresh under cool water and set aside.

Scald 1 cup milk in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir together flour and the remaining 1/4 cup cold milk in a small bowl to make a smooth paste. Stir into the hot milk mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, salt and pepper. Transfer sauce to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Spread one-third of the sauce in prepared baking dish. Arrange the steamed cauliflower over it and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3; cover and refrigerate the sauce and steamed cauliflower separately for up to 1 day.

10. Crunchy-Munchy Corn & Millet Bread

ma10.jpgFrom: EatingWell Magazine January/February 2009

The outside of this rustic-looking bread is crunchy and the inside is soft, with a smattering of small bits of corn grits and millet or sesame seeds. The loaf’s mild corn flavor goes well with chowders, stews and Tex-Mex dishes. The bread calls for millet, but sesame seeds can be substituted with good results. A pot with a 9- to 10-inch diameter, such as a Dutch oven, will produce a nicely domed loaf, while a wider-bottomed pot will allow the dough to spread out and form a relatively flat loaf.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-grain or stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 1/3 cup yellow corn grits, or very coarse-grained uncooked polenta
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant, quick-rising or bread-machine yeast
  • 1/3 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil, canola oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons millet, or sesame seeds, divided
  • 2 cups unbleached bread flour, (see Note), plus more as needed
  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour, preferably white whole-wheat (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup ice water, (see Tip), plus more as needed

Preparation

Mix dough: Place 2/3 cup cornmeal and corn grits (or polenta) in a medium bowl. Gradually stir in boiling water until well blended and lump-free. Let stand until barely warm. Thoroughly stir 2 cups bread flour, whole-wheat flour, 3 tablespoons millet (or sesame seeds), sugar, salt and yeast in a 4-quart (or larger) bowl. Thoroughly stir yogurt and oil into the cornmeal mixture. Stir 3/4 cup ice water into the cornmeal mixture until smoothly incorporated. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the flour mixture, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the ingredients are thoroughly blended; it may seem too dry initially, but it usually comes together with sufficient stirring. The dough should be moist and somewhat sticky, but fairly stiff. If the mixture is still too dry, stir in just enough additional ice water to facilitate mixing, but don’t over moisten. If the dough is too wet, stir in just enough flour to stiffen slightly. Lightly coat the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

First rise: Let the dough rise at room temperature (about 70 °F) for 12 to 18 hours; if convenient, stir once partway through the rise. For convenience (and improved flavor), you may refrigerate the dough for 3 to 12 hours before starting the first rise.

Second rise: Generously coat a 3 1/2- to 5-quart Dutch oven (or similar ovenproof pot) with oil. Coat the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon each cornmeal and millet (or sesame seeds). Vigorously stir the dough to deflate it. If it’s soft and very sticky, stir in just enough bread flour to yield a firm but moist dough (it should be fairly hard to stir). Transfer the dough to the pot. Lightly coat the dough with oil, then smooth the top using a well-oiled rubber spatula or your fingertips. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon each cornmeal and millet (or sesame seeds) and pat down. Put the lid on the pot or tightly cover with foil.

Let rise at warm room temperature until the dough is double the deflated size, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. (For an accelerated rise, see Tip.)

15 minutes before baking: Position a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450 °F. Generously sprinkle or spritz the loaf with water.

Bake, cool, slice: Bake the loaf on the lower rack, covered, until lightly browned and crusty, 60 to 70 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until nicely browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until an instant-read thermometer registers 204-206 °), 10 to 15 minutes longer. Cool in the pot on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the loaf out on the rack and let cool to at least warm before serving. The loaf is good warm but slices best when cool.

Make Ahead Tip: Wrap airtight and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Notes: Milled from high-protein wheat, bread flour develops strong gluten, resulting in well-risen loaves. It helps give breads with a high percentage of whole grains better structure and a lighter texture. Find it near other flours in most supermarkets.

White whole-wheat, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. Available in large supermarkets and in natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.

Tips: To prepare “ice water” for this recipe, add a heaping cup of ice cubes to cold water and stir for about 30 seconds before measuring out the water.

You can turn your microwave into a warm, moist environment to help accelerate the second rise of the bread dough. Begin by microwaving 1/2 cup water in a 1-cup glass measure just to boiling. Set the water in one corner of the microwave, place the pan of dough on the other side of the turned-off microwave and close the door. The dough will double in size in 45 minutes to 11/2 hours.

 

As always I love hearing from you, if you have any questions, comments or if you have a tip please share below!

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How to upgrade your mornings

This post was sponsored by CLEAR CARE® PLUS as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.  I received financial compensation for my participation and endorsement.

We’ve all been there. Stuck in habit of doing the same-old same-old routine, we may think about changing but it usually takes an outside force to get us to do so. Changing the color on your walls or your morning routine doesn’t seem like much, I know. The little things in life can and do make a huge impact on your way of life.

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For me, my personal upgrade was my morning routine. I was never a “morning person” but a few little tweaks made my mornings work for me. Even if you are an up and riser, these little life hacks can upgrade and elevate your mornings!
First morning upgrade: Splurge on yourself! Find, buy or make a grand coffee mug that is special JUST for you and no one else. It will help remind yourself that you are worth it, while you sip your morning coffee (nectar of the gods), tea or juice and give you a little confidence boost first thing in the morning.

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Second morning upgrade: Save yourself some time and sanity by make ahead breakfast meals that you can throw in the microwave or toaster. And you can spend more time on the things you want to get done in the morning. Here are a few ideas that my family uses, and some you can even eat on the go.
1. Breakfast Burritos– Burritos are one of my favorite foods, and I love that you can customize it exactly the way you want. I personally like eggs, breakfast sausage, cheese, bell peppers, and onions, topped off with some fresh cilantro! When reheating wrap in a moist paper towel for best results.
2. Breakfast Sandwiches – Who doesn’t love a breakfast sandwich? And who knew they freeze so well? Just pop them in the microwave and you’re set. You could also make this with croissants!
3. Green Smoothies – Green smoothies are a staple in our house. Our whole family loves them and we make them a couple times a week. It’s so easy to freeze individual portions into ziploc bags so that all you need to add is the liquid and then blend!
4. French Toast Sticks – I used to make these in big batches all the time. I love that you can bake them. They freeze beautifully, and you can reheat them quickly in the toaster or toaster oven. You can even sneak in veggies by blending in some pumpkin or squash into the batter — they’ll never know!
5. Pancakes – Pancakes and waffles also freeze great.
6. Muffins – Make your favorite muffin and pop them into freezer bags. When reheating wrap in a moist paper towel for best results.
7. Egg muffins/Mini Frittatas – These are easy to make and easy to customize with your choice of ingredients — no bread needed!
8. Breakfast cookies – Everything tastes better when it’s in cookie form. Oat cookies work amazing!
9. Pop tarts – You can make your own healthy pop tarts with puff pastry or premade dough. Reheat them in the microwave or toaster oven and you have a quick, easy breakfast your kids are sure to love!

& Don’t forget to pre-set your coffee maker so it’s ready when you are!
Third morning upgrade: Save the morning for thinking. The morning tends to have a quieter, more contemplative feel to it. Take advantage of it, by following poet William Blake’s advice to divide up your day: “Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.” Even if your job isn’t complex, you can use the mornings where you’re not on a tight deadline to think over problems, consider future challenges, and give your tasks more mindful attention than they’ll get when everyone else gets in and starts grabbing for your attention.
Fourth morning upgrade: Set a morning prep reminder the night before. Whether it’s your watch or your cell phone set something in your home to beep at a certain time every night. When that beep goes off, around 9 p.m., for instance, it means you should drop what you’re doing and spend just a bit of time preparing for your morning, while you’re actually awake. Take the time to set out your clothes and shoes, grind coffee and set your coffee timer, check your calendar for events and reminders, and packing anything you’re bound to forget into your bag.

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View the sweepstakes here to learn more, and discover the amazing prizes!

Bubble Sweepstakes Rules

Cherish your memories with York Photo

School is starting and our kids will be gone ALL DAY!! While this brings us much joy, it also brings us some stress and we realize our kids are just growing up too fast! We all have those picture frames at our desk at work or home showing off how cute and adorable our kiddos are! But we need these little things to help us remember that they are growing each and every year and to cherish the memories that we have now.

I received complimentary products and compensation to facilitate my review, but all opinions stated are 100% mine!

YorkPhoto.com offers a variety of products to create now so that you can cherish these memories later! And they won’t break the bank!SCREENSHOT

York Photo always has special offers, including buy one get one free promotions and %40 off certain items.

Perfect for the Holidays, Birthdays and Teachers gifts. And don’t forget about those Grandparents!

I used the picture below and added it with a few of my favs of my kids and created this mug!

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I take it to work with me every single day. And I have gotten dozens of compliments! I think I am going to make some bookmarks and notepads next for the kids to take to school with them! Maybe even with my picture on them (My kids would die, LOL).

Create yours here at YorkPhoto.com!

You can also visit them on their social media and stay up to date with great ideas and their promotions!

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Have some ideas of what we can make next? Just comment them below and inspire others!

Back to School tips (to make it easier)

This summer has flown by. My kids go back to school in just a couple of weeks. And I always struggle with keeping everything organized. So this month I am getting organized, getting creative and giving you all the Tips and To-Do’s!

Tip: Decorate Notebooks and PencilsThis is another easy craft that will make your old school supplies look that much cuter. Buy some super cheap, plain notebooks and make them unique and adorable with colorful Washi tape. I guarantee you’ll get compliments.

notebooks

 

Mornings made easy

 School mornings are rough! Here are some ideas to help you get going quicker (while keeping your sanity intact)

Breakfast of champions. Trying to get out of that Summer routine means we’re always rushed and some days the kids have to eat breakfast on the way to school, so I’ve decided to freeze more breakfasts for those super busy mornings. Here are 10 ideas for easy and tasty make ahead freezer breakfasts!

  1. Breakfast Burritos- Burritos are one of my favorite foods, and I love that you can customize it exactly the way you want. I personally like eggs, breakfast sausage, cheese, bell peppers, and onions, topped off with some fresh cilantro! When reheating wrap in a moist paper towel for best results.
  2. Quesadilla – Similar to a breakfast burrito but flatter!
  3. Breakfast Sandwiches – Who doesn’t love a breakfast sandwich? And who knew they freeze so well? Just pop them in the microwave and you’re set. You could also make this with croissants!
  4. Green Smoothies – Green smoothies are a staple in our house. Our whole family loves them and we make them a couple times a week. It’s so easy to freeze individual portions into ziploc bags so that all you need to add is the liquid and then blend!
  5. French Toast Sticks – I used to make these in big batches all the time. I love that you can bake them. They freeze beautifully, and you can reheat them quickly in the toaster or toaster oven. You can even sneak in veggies by blending in some pumpkin or squash into the batter — they’ll never know!
  6. Pancakes – Pancakes and waffles also freeze great.
  7. Muffins – Make your favorite muffin and pop them into freezer bags. When reheating wrap in a moist paper towel for best results.
  8. Egg muffins/Mini Frittatas – These are easy to make and easy to customize with your choice of ingredients — no bread needed!
  9. Breakfast cookies – Everything tastes better when it’s in cookie form. Oat cookies work amazing!
  10. Pop tarts – You can make your own healthy pop tarts with puff pastry or premade dough. Reheat them in the microwave or toaster oven and you have a quick, easy breakfast your kids are sure to love!

& Don’t forget to pre-set your coffee maker so it’s ready when you are!

Conquer clothing clutter. When putting your laundry away, separate 5 outfits, one for each day of the school week, and label them for easy access. If your child is older or picky about what they wear, this can be one of their weekly chores, it will save time trying to decide what to wear in the morning and trying to find something that matches.

mornings made easy

Prep lunches the night before. Get that lunchbox packed the night before and put it in the fridge for a quick grab and go. See “Lunch time” below for some more great ideas.

Lunch time

Let’s be honest, those sandwiches that look like sheep and fruit shaped into flowers are cute and fun but who has time for that? Every year I always start out doing the super cute and fun lunch boxes but by the end of the second week I have run out of steam and ideas! Keep it simple and shake it up every now and then, the kids will be more surprised when it’s an occasional lunch party box then an everyday routine.easy lunch box

Save yourself some time and space by dedicating one of your kitchen drawers to a “Lunch prep drawer” and keep everything you need in one location.

lunch prep drawer

I store the juice boxes in the freezer to use as the ice pack. This will keep you from trying the find the ice pack every night and having to remember to wash it and put it back in the freezer. Just throw it in the morning of, or even the night before and keep it in the fridge.  

After School Showdown

I don’t know about your kids but mine go straight for the snacks as soon as the stumble in the door. Create a snack basket of things they can grab and eat while doing that homework “they don’t have”.  This will keep them from eating junk after school and get them back on track.

after school snack station

Create a “drop off” location in your house, somewhere the kids can kick off their shoes (so they can find them in the morning) drop off their backpack (so it’s not lying on the floor somewhere) and write down any important notes or dates (before they forget them).  I also like to add a basket or file holder that they can put those data folders or papers that need to be signed or reviewed.

backpack station

 

Back to School Shopping:

I have compiled a list of the biggest sales to complete that supply list. Some of them even offer free in store pick up, which means you do the clicking and they do the picking! Save yourself some isle wandering and kid wrangling while you shop from your couch!

Target back to school link: Here

Staples back to school link: Here

Dick’s Sporting Goods back to school link: Here

Best Buy back to school link: Here

Walmart back to school link: Here

Office Depot & Office Max back to school link: Here

 

Thanks for coming and as always I love to hear from you guys, so if you have any comments questions or ideas please post them below!

Details Matter

“This post was sponsored by P&G as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.”

Conquering crafts, recipes, kids and life are all about the little things. From great quality ingredients in my recipes to quality cleaning products to help me put my home and kitchen back together after the mess. Having two kids, a dog, a full time job and running my household keep me busy, not to mention exhausted at times. I depend on the little things, the details that help me get the job done. We are a messy family and have fun doing it. I depend on Bounty Advanced paper towels to help pick up all the messes we make while making memories and as easy and quick as possible. Bounty Advanced is Bounty’s most absorbent paper towel vs National Bounty select-a-size. The select-a-size adds value and allows me to stay on budget while getting the brand I trust and depend on.

As you can see below I can destroy my kitchen with only one meal! But cleaning up is no longer a chore when using Bounty Advanced paper towels, I can get one paper towel damp and it is strong enough to scrub that dried cupcake batter (from my amazing chocolate cupcakes) off my counters for good.

DM 1

When it’s time to wash the dishes after I allow them to sit in the sink for hours while I chase my kids around the house I would shilly-shally around until I could no longer avoid it. The dishes are my Nemesis! Why does it takes an hour to cook the meal, ten minutes to eat the meal and eight hours cleaning up after the meal? Probably because I used to hand rinse all my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, until I found Cascade Complete Action Pacs. They seriously saved me so much time and frustration and allows me to have extra time to spend with my Family. I can now skip the pre-rinse and get on with my day. With the power of Dawn, Cascade Complete Action Pacs you can end the pre-wash once and for all. No wonder they’re the TOUGHER TOUGH FOOD CLEANER. Try saying that five times fast, whew!

DM 2

Having such active kids they get stains from almost everything! I want to allow them to be kids and play outside and get dirty, but I sometimes wonder if they have competitions to see who can get their clothes the dirtiest. I have used Tide for years and save money by buying it at Costco which means a lot to me and my family. Now there is Tide Advanced Power and it is truly Tide’s best clean. I can get whatever stains the kids decide to challenge me out with their advanced stain fighting and whitening technology and color protectors and dinginess removal makes it Tide’s Best Clean. Not only is it great for your family’s clothes but those dingy kitchen towels that have been sitting out since you did dishes yesterday.

I love to combine Downy Unstopables for long-lasting freshness and it makes my house smell AMAZING! I usually use smelly-good air fresheners around my house, but when I use these I don’t have to, it makes my towels smell fresh for up to 12 weeks!

DM 3

I hope I have inspired you to try these products, they really do make my house go round and save me time that I can spend with my family. These P&G Household Needs products can be found at Costco. It’s the little things in these products that matter like the absorbency in Bounty Advanced paper towels, the toughness in Cascade Actions Pacs, the stain fighting in Tide Advanced Power and the fresh scent in Downy Unstopables that you just can’t find in any other products. My motto is to work smarter not harder and these products can help you do that.

DM 4

    Don’t forget to look for Procter & Gamble Household needs the next time your at Costco!

 

 

Save money on Luvs and enter to win a $100 AmEx Giftcard Giveaway!

“This review was made possible by iConnect and Luvs.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.”

There’s no way around it, parenting is expensive! But Luvs is offering great money-saving opportunities for parents with little ones. I want to give you guys a heads up on a high value Luvs coupon in this Sunday’s paper- MAY 29TH in the P&G insert plus a link below to download a $2 off coupon and additional ways to save using Ibotta!

The official diaper of experienced moms, Luvs is offering opportunities to save on diapers this month with a $2 print-at-home coupon offer.

Click HERE for printable coupon and try LUVS today!

Luvs $2 Print-at-Home Coupon Image

Additionally, in partnership with Ibotta, Luvs is also offering a limited-time $3 rebate on any boxed variety of Luvs Diapers, 54ct. box or larger.

With large stretch tabs, ultra-leakage protection, a money-back guarantee and multiple high-value coupon offers, Luvs with NightLock provides high-quality features for less cost than premium brands.

Here’s how to save:

  1. Visit http://www.coupons.com/brands/luvs-coupons/ to access a Luvs coupon of $2 off any one diaper pack. Print the coupon at home and use it at any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold.
  2. Download the free Ibotta app, available on iOS and Android, and search “Luvs” to unlock an exclusive $3 rebate:
  • Go shopping for your Luvs Diapers at any participating store. I like use Ibotta at the following stores;
    • Walmart
    • Target
    • Kohls
    • Safeway
    • Costco
    • Kroger
    • and so much more! 
  • Verify your purchases by scanning product barcodes and submitting a photo of your receipt.
      • Save money and earn cash back! Your $3 cash back rebate will be deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours.

Ibotta Images

 

#SharetheLuv

giftcard giveaway

Enter to win a $100 American Express gift card from LUVS!! Enter from May 30th thru June 4th. Good luck! One winner will win a $100 Amex Card.  Open to the US only. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Enter using the Giveaway Tools Form Below. Good Luck

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Giveaway is officially closed and we have a winner!

Winner is Steve W!! Thanks for your entries and I appreciate the support!

 

What you can expect choosing LUVS

With large refastenable stretch tabs, fastening Luvs Diapers is super easy for Mom, plus she can rest assured knowing that she’s giving baby a secure, snug fit again and again.

With Leak Barrier Leg Gathers and a Leakguard Core, plus our largest absorbency area ever, Luvs makes life easier for busy Moms by helping to keep leaks in the diaper where they belong, so baby stays dry and comfortable.

A contoured shape hugs baby for a great fit, and a cottony material feels soft and gentle on baby’s skin.

The Luvs Money Back Guarantee: We feel so strongly that our diapers will keep your baby leak-free that we’ve guaranteed them! If you aren’t satisfied with the leakage protection of Luvs, we’ll refund your money.  See our website, www.luvsdiapers.com, for details.

Luvs Diapers are available in sizes newborn through 6, and can be found at mass, discount and grocery stores where baby care products are sold.

Luvs is the official diaper of experienced parents. When parents choose Luvs over Huggies Snug & Dry, they get outstanding superior overnight protection that locks away wetness 2X better*, and they turn diapers into dollars by saving up to $150 per year**.

For more information on Luvs Diapers, visit luvsdiapers.com or the brand’s social media channels on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/luvsdiapers), Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/luvs) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/luvsdiapers).

*Based on Size 4.  Average of 0.13 grams less after 3 typical wettings over 15 minutes.  Huggies Snug & Dry is a trademark of Kimberly-Clark Worldwide

**Luvs Diapers versus Huggies Diapers based on average consumption and Nielsen average non-promoted retail price 3 months ending 05/02/2015

Luvs Box Product Shot

 

A little Q&A:

Q: What diapers are included in the print-at-home coupon offer?

All Luvs Diapers are included in this particular offer, except trial/travel sized diaper packs.

 Q: Where can I shop to claim the print at home coupon offer? How long will this offer last?

The print-at-home coupon can be used at mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs diapers are sold. It will be available for printing from the website until 6/30/16, and the expiration date is 7/31/16.

Q: What diapers are included in the Ibotta rebate offer?

This rebate only includes Luvs Boxes, 54 ct. or larger. The rebate excludes Luvs Bags, 48 ct. or smaller.

 Q: I am having troubles with the Ibotta app. What should I do?

Please visit the Help Center found in the app or visit https://ibotta.desk.com/ for further assistance with the application. For any general Luvs Diaper questions, consumers can call 888-NO-LEAKS or visit www.luvsdiapers.com.

Q: Where can I shop to claim the Ibotta offer?

There are over 193 supporting stores at over 500,000 locations. Visit https://ibotta.com/where/receipt-photo for a list of supported retailers.

Q: How long will the Ibotta offer last?

This is a limited-time offer. Once you unlock the rebate, you can see the exact date of the rebate expiration. In order to qualify for the rebate, you must submit your receipt before the rebate expiration.

#SharetheLuv

I love to hear from you guys, so if you have any questions, comments or ideas I would love to hear them! Just write them in the comment box below.

StickerKid for the everyday Mom

StickerKid makes life easier for parents, teachers and kids with attractive and ultra-resistant name labels which clearly identify children’s clothes, shoes, bottles, school supplies and other belongings that are too easily lost or difficult to identify at playgrounds, kindergarten, school, sports activities or camps. StickerKid offers thousands of possibilities to make them your own, with an extensive variety of colors, icons, shapes and fonts.

skpic

stickerkid cover

Do your kids arrive home missing a few things they left home with?  If they are anything like my kids, they leave their jacket in the playground during the winter and water bottles in the lunch room during summer. Nine times out of ten when they go to the lost and found to get back their belongings they either can’t find it or aren’t sure which is theirs. These super cute name labels help make life easier for your kids to find and keep their belongings. You personalize each label with your kids name, your contact info, teacher or classroom and make it special for them to show their personality and pick what color they want, which font, any fun characters or shapes.

I let my children pick out exactly what they wanted on each of theirs so they would be proud to to use it and show it off!

They have a variety of options that work for newborns to high-schooler’s and beyond!

 

They are water resistant, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, washer & dryer safe and even fridge and freezer safe! Durable and adorable.

You can see their full menu of labels and more here: StickerKid

Perfect for:

  • Summer Camps
  • Daycare
  • Classrooms
  • Home
  • Sleep overs
  • Birthday parties

Safety Bracelets

They have a whole section of allergy stickers and bracelets. You can feel safe about sending your Nut-free peanut to school with a bright and fun way to ensure everyone knows about their allergies.

skallergyskasafteyskallergy1

Don’t forget to stop by StickerKid and see what they have to make your life easier!

I received product at no cost for my honest review.

And, as always I love to hear from you, please leave any comments, questions or ideas below!

Best End of Year Teacher gifts

eoygcover

The school year is thankfully coming to a close here in Arizona in the next couple weeks. It’s funny because the anticipation I have for school to be over is the same as the anticipation I have in August for school to start again.

And so, I have begun shopping for teacher gifts. What sort of gifts do you give the people with whom you have entrusted your children for the entire school year? I find it difficult to buy them gifts that truly show how much I appreciate all that they have done for my children.

Before I share my ideas for gifts that have been teacher approved, I want to share a list of things your child’s teacher does not want.

  1. Anything “teacher” themed. To include anything with a design that incorporates rulers, apples, schoolhouses, and chalk boards. Where exactly will the teachers keep all of this? Their classrooms are small and I don’t know any teachers who have teacher-themed decor in their own homes.
  2. Anything that says “#1 Teacher.”
  3. Coffee mug, especially if it is decorated with anything mentioned in #1 and #2 above
  4. A photo of your child. No matter how much your child’s teacher loves your child, they do not want a photo of him/her.
  5. Fancy, smelly soaps. Does anyone use these really? A vat of hand sanitizer would probably be more practical.
  6. Your teacher doesn’t want a gardening kit or a pot decorated with your child’s hand prints and some quip about “how my child bloomed this year” or thanking them for “planting the seeds of knowledge.” It’s hot here and would just be more work for them in the end and if they aren’t into gardening would probably just sit in their garage.
  7. Your teacher doesn’t want anything made from actual pencils, or crayons. Or anything that involves the melting of crayons. They probably know the alphabet and don’t really want an alphabet poster.
  8. Unless your teacher really likes a specific candy, don’t buy them candy. They get enough of this during the year and thru ought the holidays.
  9. Homemade food, to include in those adorable mason jars filled with mixes. If this is something that you enjoy making and can’t possibly live without doing, do it during the school year when the teacher won’t be inundated with snacks.

Usually I buy the teachers smaller gifts for the Christmas/Holiday season. My budget is more limited at that time of year, so I spend a bit more at the end of the year.

Ideas for Teacher Gifts

My suggestion is to use your creativity on the card or presentation of the gift.

  1. I like consumable gifts. Who wants more clutter in their house? With the kids that are younger they have more intimate relationships with their teachers it is easier to find out what the teachers really like and gift accordingly. For example, one of my kids has a teacher who loves a certain local craft store. She has mentioned it to me several times that she spends so much money there. I got her a gift card specifically to this store. Another one of my kids has a young teacher who is moving out of her parent’s house into a home she just bought, a gift card to a home improvement store is perfect for her.
  2. Gift certificate to a movie theater. Everyone likes to go to the movies, I think. Attach the gift card to some microwave popcorn or a box of.
  3. Gift card to a chain restaurant or store. Target, Subway, Sonic, or Starbucks are good choices. Or if your teacher has children, maybe an ice-cream shops to take them.
  4. Gift certificate to a local salon. There’s a great nail salon near the school and it is convenient for the teachers to use. I mean, who doesn’t like to be pampered?
  5. If you had an incredible teacher, write them a note to let them know how much you appreciated them. Send a copy of this note to the principal and superintendent. They get so many complaints every year; a note of praise is a welcome change. If sadly it comes at a time when teachers’ jobs are in jeopardy this could make a difference in their careers.
  6. Pool your money with some other families from your child’s class to get a larger gift card or present.
  7. Personalized note cards. You can get them relatively inexpensively online with the teacher’s name printed on them.  Teachers are always writing notes home.  Just don’t make them teacher themed.
  8. Pick out a nice bottle of wine. Write a note to relax and enjoy the “sweet taste” of summer.
  9. Something useful. A beach towel, sunblock, magazines, beach bag full of goodies. Here is Arizona it gets HOT! So during summer the go to spot to “chill out” is the pool! Even if you live somewhere not-so hot a lot of Teachers take vacations during their Summer and can take these great things along with them.

 


What ideas do you have for Year End Teacher’s Gifts? Or, are you a teacher who has received gifts you really enjoyed? Spill it; I want to know what you think.

 

DIY Cinderblock Garden

So you want to build a garden but don’t want to spend a fortune? These cinderblock gardens will get your creativity juices flowing for sure! Whether its tomatoes, herbs flowers or even cacti  you can use cinderblocks instead of traditional pricy pots and planters. You probably have some in your backyard or see them tossed aside on the side of the street. If not, don’t fret, your local Home Depot or Lowe’s has them for around a dollar each, or less depending on the size and shape. They are located by the lumbar and come in different sizes, shapes, and with one or more holes and different heights as well.

You can spray pain them any color you want, even mosaic them and stack them in a million different ways. You can also use a squeeze on adhesive to give a better support if you plan on creating a tall planter. There really are endless possibilities!

cinderblock cover

Tips:

  1. If you live somewhere hot (like Arizona) you may want to get a spray water repellent to use for the inside of the hole you will use. Otherwise you will find yourself watering them more frequently.
  2. If you plan on painting or mosaicking the outside let dry for 24 hours before you start planting. You don’t want the chemicals leaking into your soil.
  3. Plan out your design completely before gluing them together or start dumping soil in. You may change your mind after you see it set up, stand back and look at it.
  4. Have fun with it!! Its just cinderblocks, they can handle whatever you can imagine! 

 

Here are some ideas that will turn your thumb green, and your neighbors green with envy!

cinderblock garden 1

I try to use succulents whenever possible. They are so pretty and love the dry heat in Arizona. They don’t grow very fast so you wont need to worry about re-potting them right away.

cinderblock garden 2

I love the use of different heights. It really makes your eye wander to everything. You could use pieces of wood and secure it to the bottom of each planter so you could put the soil and the plant inside.

cinderblock garden 4

I like the use of the darker colors and the  rocks on top of the soil. And they are succulents!

cinderblock garden 5

This is a fantastic use of paint. You could even use stamps, templates, or a piece of salvaged wood fixed to the front.

cinderblock garden 6

This mosaic is awesome! Great idea to use those left over tiles from house projects.

cinderblock garden 8

I love the idea of using the cinderblock as the base of the floral arrangement. There are so many different possibilities.

cinderblock garden 7.jpg

Get your herb on!

cinderblock cover 1

You can even put them into your living spaces outdoors. They are sturdy enough to use for almost anything!

 

Thanks for coming, and as always if you have any comments or ideas of your own to share just enter them below!

 

 

 

8 Things you need to know before shopping at Michael’s Craft Stores!

Love shopping at Michael’s Craft Store? I do too! In fact, I am there probably at least once a week! I never shop without coupons and love that they are so coupon friendly.#3 is a new one for me and can’t wait to take advantage of the extra savings. If you shop there, or are planning to the list below is a must-read to save you time and most importantly, MONEY!

Michaels Cover

Here are the top 8 secrets you need to know before shopping at Michael’s:

 

  Use store coupons

Michael’s offers new store coupons every week, you can find them here as well as in the Sunday newspaper and on their website. You can print the coupon or just show them the coupon on your Smartphone to scan.

Michael’s also offers random bonus coupons that are good for one day only and usually apply to clearance and sale items as well as regular priced items. Make sure you sign up for their text alerts so check their website frequently so you don’t miss those savings!

Image result for Michael's craft store

Check out Michael’s Mobile Alerts & App

Sign up for mobile text alerts from Michael’s by texting the words JOIN2 to 273-283. Standard text message rates do apply, but they send out coupons as often as 8 messages per month. (Including those Bonus Coupons you just read about!)

You can also download the Michael’s app to your Smartphone to easily get coupons to show in store. Almost all Michael’s stores offer WIFI so if your phone doesn’t pull up the app or a coupon you got sent in a text quickly, connect to their WIFI so you don’t get frustrated. Shopping & Saving should be fun!

You can also sign up for their emails to get the scoop in upcoming events, classes and sales.

 

Take advantage of competitor coupons

Michael’s will accept coupons from the following stores:

  • ACMoore

  • Jo Anne Fabrics

  • Ben Franklin

  • Hobby Lobby

  • Anna’s Linens

  • SAS Stores

Michael’s will accept a competitor coupon up to 50% off any single item, however they won’t allow coupons for a percentage off your entire order (i.e. 25% off your entire purchase.) Depending on the management at your store, you may be able to use a competitor coupon AND a store coupon in the same transaction.

 

Don’t miss special one or two day sales

Michael’s frequently offers special short term deals, which you can find when you check their weekly ad online or sign up for their daily emails. This is a great way to save, and I’ve found fantastic prices on mason jars, canvases, and photo boxes watching for these sales.

 

Shop Michael’s “dollar” bins & big savings aisle

All Michael’s stores have dollar bins near the front of the store. These often go on clearance, and are a great way to stock up on seasonal decor, cute muffin cups, thank you notes, gift tags and lots more! I always make a beeline for this section of the store as soon as I walk in the door.

And don’t forget about that one Clearance aisle or end cap, some coupons can be used for those items too.

You can find ways to Spice up those Mason Jars!

Watch for seasonal clearance at Michael’s

Michael’s offers huge clearance savings, especially on seasonal decor. I’ve found great deals on Christmas decor, fall decorations, items for spring and more by taking advantage of their clearance deals.
I make a point to go about 3-5 days after every holiday when they increase that % off sign, a lot of “seasonal” things can be used for more than that one season. For example all Fall things can be used for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. My daughter’s birthday is in April so I always grab that Easter Clearance as it has all the pastel colors she loves and I get it SO much cheaper than going to the party store.

Also, look in the seasonal section when on clearance for generic things like chalkboards, ribbons, candle holders or chargers and bake ware you can use for anything and anytime thru ought the year.

Image result for Michael's craft store

Enjoy Military, Senior & Teacher Discounts

Are you a member of the military? If you have a military ID card you can save an additional 10% off every single day when you shop Michael’s. You can also save 10% every day at Michael’s if you’re 55 or older.  Love that!

Teachers also save 15% at Michael’s every day on participating items.  If you’re a teacher, save 15% at Michael’s on products designed for your classroom. See the store management at your local Michael’s to find out what’s included in this promotion.

Not sure crafting is for you? Michael’s offers classes too!

And don’t forget about those kiddo’s, they offer free crafts or cheap crafts every Saturday. Check your local Michael’s for the schedule of activities. This was the next activity when I searched my local store..

Fun Family Craft Time: Easter Egg Canvas

Saturday, March 19
1 -3 PM

Bring your little makers to this family-friendly Easter event and create a one-of-a-kind mixed media art piece. Buy the canvas, and the rest of the supplies are free.

 

Michael’s also offers in store classes including classes for kids and adults. A few of their classes are free (however you may need to buy supplies), and some of their paid for classes start at just $2 per class. Go HERE to see what classes are offered at your local store.

 

Go HERE to read Michael’s coupon policy, and if you’ve come up with other ways to save at Michael’s I’d love to hear about it!

Take a minute to leave a comment to share – I love hearing from you!