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Showing posts from 2015

Beyond the Gift Card: Last Minute Gift Ideas

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It's not quite last minute but when I was shopping this weekend I noticed things are really picked over (I'm talking to you Christmas sweaters at Target.)  And if you are truly a last minute shopper, many of the toys, electronics and clothing that are the HOT gifts this year will have been snapped up by the early birds.  But that doesn't mean that it's gift cards for everyone on your list.  In fact, this is about some fun, thoughtful and quick gift ideas to help you avoid the gift card abyss.

Photo Gifts and Books- There's still time to download your photos and make cute gifts for everyone on your list.  Walmart.com offers a few same day gifts: prints on canvas, calendars and photo books to name a few.  Download your photos online and pick up your personalized gifts today.  Snapfish also offers store pick up on some gifts at Walgreens.  Photo gifts look like you put much thought into what the recipient likes yet most sites are very user friendly and offer preset tem…

It's Novermber 30th, Is your Advent Calendar Ready?

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December 1st can sneak up on us, can't it?  A late Thanksgiving can really throw me for a loop.  As in, December 1st is on Tuesday.  The Tuesday that is the day after tomorrow.  We have always had an advent calendar around here (or maybe even two) and most years I'm on top of things but this year, not so much.  So not on top of things that I boughtour advent calendar last night. First time I've bought one. Ever.  With a 13, almost 14 year old I didn't feel so bad since she actually asked for this one and was thrilled I said yes. So, I've already put the guilt behind me.  But in the good old days gone by I would never have purchased an advent calendar.  I'm imagining it's November 30th and I don't have my calendar yet.  I've got the Elf on its Shelf but no Advent to be found.  What's a girl to do?

Christmas Book Countdown

I'll assume that you have all of your Christmas books handy. I loved this countdown when LM was younger.  Wrap 24 Christm…

My Shop is Open...

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I have opened a shop at Society 6.  I am super excited to share some of these fun holiday items with you!  There are pillows and prints and canvas and travel mugs.  Even clocks!  Head over and take a look.  I'd love to hear your feedback too.


I'm also open to your ideas - I have a bunch swirling around in my head but I love to hear what other people think and would like to see. I can do custom items too.  Or just switch out colors to match your decor.


These items make really fun and unique gifts.  And did I mention the free shipping?


I've ordered a few things from Society 6 in the past and have been happy with the quality and I'm sure you will be too.

I hope you'll head on over to the shop and take a look.  Thanks!

10 Things to do on Black Friday (besides shop)

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I spent too many years in retail to ever want to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving shopping.  All that traffic and pushing and waiting in line is great for retailers but not for me.  I actually went to W@lmart one Black Friday about 15 years ago.  I figured I'd zip in at 5 am, pick up the vacuum and TV and be back at home before my husband woke up.  This was before the days of being open on Thanksgiving day and even at 5 am, the store was packed.   Packed with mean, pushy, cart ramming shoppers.  I picked up the two things I came for as fast as I could (which wasn't all that fast) and vowed never to do that again.  Never.  Ever.

These days my Black Fridays are more relaxing and fun.  If you're looking for something to do this year besides hitting the mall, consider one of these activities:


Put up your Christmas Tree.  This can be a fun family event and if you have relatives in town you even get some extra help!  Take pictures, too, and share them on the September Acres Fac…

Thanksgiving Free Printables...

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Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away.  Cooking, cleaning, decorating.  Are you ready?
 If not we can help you a little bit with the cooking part with our recipe exchange.  There are a couple of yummy recipes that have been shared on our Facebook page.
Cleaning. We cannot help you with that by maybe the FlyLady can give you some pointers. :)
Decorating.  We always want everything to look nice when our guests arrive.  I have a free printable for you that can help a bit.  Print it out and pop it in a frame and you're set. (Just click on the image below, right click, save image as and print from your computer.  Print on card stock or regular paper.)


Thanksgiving Recipe Exchange...

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I don't know about you but I love to try new recipes although I don't do it a much as I'd like to.  I think that's because on the average day it's all I can do to get something on the table and I just don't make the time to look for something new.  Even when I meal plan and add a couple of new recipes to the menu each month I usually end up scratching it and just cooking what I know (spaghetti, anyone?)

Thanksgiving is a fun time to add something new because I usually have a little extra time with school being out and the excitement of the upcoming holiday season takes over.  So I thought this would be a perfect time to have a recipe exchange.  I'd love to see your tried and true recipes or even something new that you haven't tried but would like to.  I know there are many wonderful cooks out there with recipe boxes full of inspiration.

Please share your recipes in the comments here or better yet, on the September Acres Facebook page. Fell free to shar…

Thanksgiving...

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner (3 weeks away!)  

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year or visiting someone for the day?

Lists....

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I am not a huge list maker.  I make a grocery list - which often gets let at home (anyone else?) - other than that I am hit or miss. I like post-it notes and use them in my Home Management Notebook for my "to-do's". I use index cards for making lists sometimes.  I have never quite gotten into using my phone or computer for my lists.  No matter where you keep your lists, they are a key to keeping organized.  
Try making lists to keep yourself (and your family) on track for some of these tasks:
Groceries- Saves money & time.  If you don't lose it!Errands -Saves money & time.  And driving around in circles.Cleaning/Chores - Clean Mama has some wonderful printables (some free) to help keep you on track.Gifts - Saves money & time.Holiday Greeting Cards - Keep track of who you send cards to each year and who you receive cards from if you'd like. I do keep this kind of list each year- it makes it easy to know who gets cards each year when you can just refer ba…

5 Things I Learned About Having a Garage Sale...

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I spent last weekend at a friend's house having a garage sale.  It's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure.  It was fun hanging with friends and we each made a little money but I'm not sure it was really worth it financially.  We probably both ended up making way less than minimum wage.  Are you thinking of doing a garage sale?  I'm no expert but if you're planning one soon let me pass on the things I've learned this time around.


Books & DVD's aren't Huge Sellers.  I sold 3 DVD's and about 5 books.  I thought the kids' movies and books would sell but maybe with iPads and the like they just aren't relevant. I had a man offer me $5 for all of the books - there were probably 40-50 of them.  I declined but as I was loading them back into my car I was second guessing myself. I think you're better off donating them to a school or taking them to somewhere like Hastings for store credit.Furniture is a Big Draw. If I had a dime for …

Buffalo Cauliflower...

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I'm a firm believer that you can put buffalo sauce on anything and it will taste good.  Cauliflower is no exception.  I have had this recipe hanging on my fridge for months and finally made it tonight. And just as I suspected, it was delicious. I didn't make the cheese sauce but I'm sure it's yummy too.

Ingredients

Cheese Sauce:
1/3 cup nonfat sour cream
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon skim milk
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Buffalo Cauliflower:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
8 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 medium head)


Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the cheese sauce: Whisk together the sour cream, blue cheese, milk, mayonnaise, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes

For the Buffalo cauliflower: Meanwhile, microwave …

Why I Don't Use Pinterest (too much)...

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I'm sure I'm in the minority but I just don't use Pinterest much.  It's not that I don't like it or think it isn't useful or super cool.  It's just that it's a time suck.  Like it's cousin Facebook.  And how many time sucks do any of us really need? That's the main reason I just don't use it.

That and how many things that we pin do we actually ever go back to?  Those parenting articles & craft projects- wait 10 minutes and there will be more.  Don't forget to pin them!  I just logged on to my account (you can check it out here) for the first time in I don't know how long.  I totally forgot about all the fun things I pinned (Christmas ideas galore!)  But honestly, I don't think I've completed one craft project or prepared one recipe.

So, I spend valuable time pinning and never using any of the ideas making we wonder, why?

Are a Pinterest fanatic or not?

Corn Chowder...

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Soup weather is right around the corner.  Or so they tell me.  It's still well over 100 degrees here and probably will be all week. But in anticipation for the cooler weather I wanted to share (again) my corn chowder recipe. I cannot wait to make it this fall.
Corn Chowder
2 c. chicken broth or water 2 c. chopped potatoes 1/2 c. carrots chopped 1/2 c. celery chopped 1/4 c onion chopped 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper Bacon (about 6-8 strips- or to taste) 1/4 c. margarine or butter 1/4 c. flour 2 c. milk 1 c. Parmesan cheese 17 oz can cream style corn 17 oz can corn (drained) Tabasco (to taste)
Brown bacon and onion. Set aside. Add water/broth to veggies (minus corn). Add salt, pepper. Cover & simmer 10 min. Do not drain. Make white sauce w/ butter, flour & milk. Add Parmesancheese stirring until melted. Mix white sauce with veggies. Add corn and bacon/onion mixture to vegetables. Heat, do not boil.. Spice it up with the Tabasco. You can also add cooked chicken to the chowder…

The Lost Art of Hospitality...

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This is a re-post from 2011 but I think it's a timely topic as we go into the time of year when guests and visitors will come a-knocking. 

Is hospitality a lost art?  As I was perusing the Internet for information on hospitality I kept coming across the same sentiment: Hospitality is a lost art.

I see it everyday and I am sure most of you do also.  There are many reasons for the decline in hospitality, the most common being the busy lives we all lead.  Other reasons include things like "I don't cook", "My house is too small", "My kids are at home", "I am not comfortable having people over" & "My house is dirty".  All fabulous reasons, right?  Not really, in my opinion.

Our busy lives do get in the way of many things including spending time in our homes with our friends and family.  It sure takes effort and thought to stay at home for a day- sometimes it's not even possible - there are carpools and sports and girl scouts an…

It's Still Summer...

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Well, I think Fall is finally almost here.  According to my calendar, it begins tomorrow.  Although you would think it started a while back if you've been perusing blogs, Instagram and Pinterest at all.

My daughter turns 14 in January.  Fourteen.  1-4.  How in the name of heaven did this happen?  Especially since I just turned 29 (again).  The time as flown by and to be honest I've been guilty of trying to rush things every now and then - 'I can't wait for Kindergarten to start, I'll have so much free time' (that, my friends, is the biggest mommy myth ever).  'I can't wait for Christmas break so we can go to Park City'. 'I can't wait for summer vacation'. The list goes on and I'm pretty sure you all have a similar one to mine.

At the beginning of the year I decided that I was going to try my darndest to not rush any seasons any more. Figurative and literal seasons.  Hence, the so far pumpkin spice free September Acres abode.  There…

My Favorite Dollar Store Buys...

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I have a confession:  I loathe 'dollar stores'.  As luck would have it, I believe we live in the town with the most dollar stores per capita.  We have a Dollar Tree, Dollar General, TWO Family Dollar's and a 99 cents only (where everything is really $1) in a town of about 50,000.  That's 1 dollar store for every 10,000 residents if you're into statistics. 

Dollar stores are big business.  In 2011 Family Dollar stores reported net sales of $8.55 billion.  Dollar General's 2011 FY sales were $14.81 billion.  That's a lot of stuff! Dollar General positions itself in rural areas, some of which are too small for a Walmart, which makes it the go-to store for all things bargain-y.

Dollar stores have even made it into the blogosphere.  Blogs like Dollar Store Crafts, & Dollar Store Mom feature really neat crafts using supplies from dollar stores.  Many are kid friendly which I know I like.  Many of the crafts are so amazing you would never know they were so inexp…

Kids Birthday Parties Gone Wild....

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I'm sure everyone has seen this demanding email by now.  After reading it I first thought 'poor child' and then it started me thinking about birthday parties in general for little people.  I don't know about you but birthday parties when I was younger meant some cake and ice cream and opening (modest) gifts for the lucky birthday girl or boy. Times have changed, yes?  For the better?  Not really.

We've all heard about the parties for celebs kids which are over the top outrageous but how many of us have been to a party with the same outrageous-ness (new word I just made up) just on a smaller scale?  In a world where bigger is better how can we top a really BIG fest next year?  People spend hundreds and thousands (!) of dollars on their little prince or princesses parties.  There are even party planners for kids birthday parties.  Who knew?

We've done big parties here and small ones and I think the smaller ones are more memorable for the kids.  The year we did a…

Fixer Upper...

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Just when I was about to call Directv and tell them to take HGTV because it wasn't worth watching, 'Fixer Upper' miraculously showed up.  Oh happy day!  I just love this show!  Chip and Joanna Gaines are a hoot!  And the work they do is pretty darn fabulous.



My favorite thing about this show is not Chip and Joanna, or Joanna's awesome style but the fact that they find homes in price ranges that are more middle America than what we see on Property Brothers or Love it or List it.  A $200,000 budget is not uncommon.  They find a house that's $120,000 or so leaving them $80,000 or so for renovations.  Pretty cool.  And pretty easy to relate to for many of us. Million dollar budgets?  Not so much.

Chip and Joanna come across some really great fixer uppers.  Almost makes me want to move to Texas!


I love Joanna's style.  She is creative and, being a mom of 4, she understands that homes need to work for families with storage options, family friendly materials and spa…

Sweet Treats....

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When we were younger we made a bunny cake each year.  We started a tradition a few years ago after my husband and daughter reluctantly tried real coconut (as opposed to the flakes from the bag) and low and behold they liked it.  Yippee.  That means we make this cake each year!  I still leave the bow coconut free just in case we have a guest that doesn't like coconut.

I also make these sticky buns for Easter morning.

 It can't hurt to have another 'sweet' tradition!

What are your Easter food traditions?

Easter Bunny Flag (Pottery Barn Knock-off)

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A couple of years ago I saw the cutest little bunny flag at Pottery Barn.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it was out of stock  so I decided it was something I could easily make.  At least something similar and just as cute. This is the inspiration from PB:


Cute, right?

I set off to make my own and I came up with this:


Cute also.  Super easy too.  A quick stop at Hobby Lobby and I was ready to go.  I already had some burlap and white flannel at home.


I traced a bunny silhouette on the flannel.  I did it freehand but there's bound to be something out there on the internet that will work well.


I stitched the bunny on to the burlap, folded the top of the burlap over to make a pocket for the rod (a dowel and 2 wooden finials), painted to rod black (to give it a wrought iron look) and glued that little bunny tail on to the flannel.


Super quick and easy.  If you don't sew the entire project can be done with hot glue and/or Stitch Witchery.


This makes a cute addition to any Ea…

5 Ways to Take your Table from Everyday to Easter Day...

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I love a great table scape. Easter is an especially fun time to make your table extra pretty.  All the pastels make it really fun to put together. Start out with white dinner plates and the sky's the limit.

Here are a few really cute and easy ways to add Easter to your table.

You don't have to go out and buy an entire new set of dinnerware (not a bad idea though, if it's in your budget.)  One or two whimsical little touches will work just fine.  I love this 5 section bunny egg holder from World Market. 


Wouldn't it be cute with dyed eggs in it?  And it's only $6.99.


Be still my heart! I am in love with these little bunny plates from Pottery Barn.  They are perfect right on top of your white plates.


This bunny serving bowl from Williams-Sonoma is just too cute for words.  And there's dinnerware to match.  Perfect!



Add a little fun to your table with these bunny napkin rings from Crate & Barrel.  Wouldn't they be fun with a pastel napkin?


A table runner i…

Easy Salsa Recipe...

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We try to eat healthy around here but still like a little snack every now and then.  I love chips and salsa and this homemade salsa is really quick and yummy (and makes me feel better about the chip part of the snack).  This is also a great way to use up excess tomatoes.


Super Easy Salsa Recipe

3 Roma Tomatoes (or any ripe tomatoes you have on hand!), chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
Banana peppers, chopped - to taste
About 2 TBSP of juice from banana pepper jar
Fresh cilantro, chopped -  to taste
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate for at least and hour.

Enjoy!

20 Sugar-Free Easter Basket Fillers...

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I posted this a couple of years ago but it's almost time for the Easter Bunny to make his appearance again so I thought it might be useful to all of you bunny helpers out there. I've made a couple of changes to the post but some of the sugar-free treats are tried and true...

Peeps, chocolate bunnies and Cadbury Creme Eggs.  There has to be more to an Easter Basket than sugar, right?  With the size of baskets these days (that's another post, for another time) non-sugar goodies are a must for Easter.  While I don't want Easter to turn into another Christmas-like gift giving holiday, I am always searching for gift ideas to pass on to the Easter Bunny.  Here are my 20 sugar-free Easter basket ideas for kids of all ages:

For Little Kids (0-8 years or so)

BubblesPlaydoh Coloring Books and Crayons - there are awesome Easter Bunny & Religious coloring books out there this time of year. Legos - I love the 'Friends' line that is out for girls now.  The usual cars and t…

Madame Chic...

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I just heard about this book last week when my mom ordered it from Amazon.  I nabbed it first and finished reading it in the car on a recent trip.  It was a fun, quick read and chocked full of useful information.

For me, this book was a chance to stop and think about how I live.  The French way of quality over quantity was stressed more than once.  I've heard so many people say they want to live with a less is more mentality - to get out of the keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle and say 'no' to excess.  This book really helps you figure out how it's done en France.

One of my favorite chapters of the book talks about a ten piece wardrobe.  No more closets stuffed full and 'nothing to wear'.  Apparently it's tres French to buy a limited number of quality pieces of clothing that mix and match with each other as opposed to a bazillion pieces of poor or mediocre quality pieces that may or may not work with your existing wardrobe.  I have always been intrigu…

Spring Cleaning...

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It's that time again.  The time when we turn to Spring Cleaning.  I know, some of you still have inches, even feet, of snow on the ground so it's hard to think that Spring is about 2 weeks away.  But it is and Spring Cleaning is a big deal for many people.  It's a chance to get your house and garden spic and span.  Time to open the windows, move furniture, turn mattresses, wash windows and comforters and mattress pads.  Fun stuff, right?  Maybe not, but doesn't it feel good to do that deep yearly cleaning?

I have a weekly schedule - a flexible one, but this is what it looks like on the 'normal' week:

Sunday - Clean the fridge (trash gets picked up on Mondays so I pitch what I need to on Sundays), empty trash cans, clean dog doo (LM does the last two), mop kitchen floor.
Monday - Laundry
Tuesday - Dust, clean bathrooms (2), mop floors
Wednesday - Laundry
Thursday - Change sheets, wash towels,Vacuum, dust
Friday - Laundry
Saturday - Grocery shop, more laundry, if neede…