sh chi 2

Easy Peasy Shredded Chicken

This has made my life better. Really, it has.

Shredding chicken is my absolutely least favorite thing to do of all times. Or at least it is close. I have a problem: I do NOT handle inanimate objects that do not obey my will very well. I still have a hard time cutting with scissors for more than a minute (Kindergarten 101!), sealed plastic objects that say “easy open” and you STILL have to pick at them for 25 minutes before the plastic finally yields and separates, and chicken that is prepared to shred but still takes way longer than it should to get it all shredded nicely.

No more.

This was a tip I found from Gwen @ Simply Healthy Family. Gwen, you are awesome.

Step 1: Cook your chicken. I just chuck several chicken breasts into a pot of boiling water and let them go for a long time.

Step 2: Take let your chicken cool down, just a bit. I found that with chicken RIGHT out of the water it actually was a little harder to get everything shredded uniformly. When the chicken is still warm, but has dried out a bit, then you are good to go.

Step 3: Chuck it in your KitchenAid with the cookie dough paddle attachment and let ‘er rip!

That’s it! That is all you have to do!! Look at how beautiful that chicken is. It makes me happy.

Gwen, thanks again. Plus also, I have a great recipe to share on Wednesday with your easily shredded chicken. This is one that my husband and son have both requested for birthday dinners – it’s awesome.

Enjoy!! :)

 

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DIY Holiday Window Clings

I love the 4th of July. It probably ranks as my favorite holiday. I love America. I love our freedom. I love to think about all of the sacrifices that people have made to make this country great. And I love fireworks. :)

I found this cute idea on Pinterest, and thought it would be perfect to adapt for the 4th of July. It originally comes from Merry at Merry with Children. I found a comment from a Kindergarten teacher on Merry’s blog that made this project WAY easy, and very fun. Teachers are awesome!

Materials:

  • Glue
  • Food Coloring
  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • Plastic Sheet Protectors
  • Templates (if desired)

Step 1:Take your glue bottles (about half-full) and add several drops of food coloring. I probably added 35+ drops of red to my “red” bottle because I didn’t want it to end up pink.

Step 2: Add a few drops of dish detergent to your glue.

Step 3: Shake well. Take the lid off and squeeze the bottle to “knead” the color into the glue. Let the glue sit overnight (or at least several hours) to let the color settle in. In the picture at the top, you can see the white on the bottom – that’s what it looks like with just shaking and not waiting yet. If you look to the picture just below, you can see how letting it sit for a few hours makes a big difference – the color went the whole way through.

Step 4: Put your templates into your sheet protectors and go to town! To me, things that “scream” 4th of July are stars, the Flag, fireworks, and the Founding Fathers. Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are two of our family Founding Father heroes, so I googled to find silhouettes of them that I could print off and have us fill in.

My husband and I were excited to try out our project, so we worked on Ben and George and added a few decorations of our own. I also wanted to see how long it would take for them to dry.

My husband’s handiwork.

My work – I wrote the letters for “America” backward so the writing would look the right way for people looking at it from the outside.  The part of your window cling that is touching the sheet protector is the part that will stick to the window.

The kids woke up bright and early and were excited to make their own window clings. Squeezing the glue directly from the bottles made it a project that they ALL could do – even my 2-year old. No paintbrushes required.

Here is how our final clings turned out:

I LOVE how the silhouettes turned out – SO awesome. And yes, I did flip this picture so “America” is a little bit more readable. That’s what the neighbors see. :)

We’re still waiting for the kids’ work to dry as we speak. They had some fun (and some very abstract) red, white and blue creations.

The clings all pretty much dried overnight, except for the very middle of George Washington. The thinner the glue, the faster it will dry. HOWEVER, the thicker the glue, the sturdier the clings will be.

You could modify this easily for any holiday, or just to do for a fun summer project. Add glitter. Whatever. Seriously, this was an easy, fast, fun project.

Enjoy! :)

RG 16

Make Your Own Rain Gauge

We had a couple of really good storms here last week – the kind that dump down rain for quite a while. Since we’ve been in a drought for a year and a half now, rain is a big deal. Both times I checked the official rainfall expecting to see at least an inch of rain, give or take, and I was shocked to see the “official” amount was listed as 0.25″ and 0.08″ of rain. The official gauge is across town, and apparently the storms missed that area. I did find one website that has people self-report rainfall, and the estimates in my area were more in the 1″ range. But it made me think – I need a rain gauge. I had griped about the rainfall measurements on facebook too and one of my cousins mentioned that I should just make one as a project with the kids – that was enough for me! Great minds think alike. :)

I started scouring the internet for how to make your own rain gauge, and some fairly complicated (or, at least, multi-step) plans came up, and even though some of them had sand in the bottom of the gauge to keep it from falling over, we get some crazy winds here and I was pretty sure that it would just fall over in the first storm and we’d have a mess.

Then I found this idea from the Franklin Institute website. Any place that is dedicated to and promotes Benjamin Franklin has to have good ideas, right? I modified it just slightly to make it work a little better.

Here is what you need:

  • A wire coat hanger
  • A wide-mouthed glass jar (I used a queso jar)
  • A sharpie
  • A ruler
  • Packing Tape
  • Pliers, or similar, to help you unbend the coat hanger

That’s it! The gauge itself is simple. Take your glass jar and your ruler. Line the “0” of your ruler up with the bottom of the glass jar and mark with the sharpie every so often (I did every 1/4″). Then write in some numbers so you can easily see some of your major measurements (1/2″, 1″, etc.).

I wanted my “measuring” to be visible on the back side so I wrote my numbers backwards so that when you are looking “through” the glass, you can see the numbers the right way. If you are happy with the numbers on the front of the jar, you can just write them the normal way.

Take a strip of packing tape that is as long as your jar is tall and put it over your numbers. This will help to keep your numbers from rubbing off as you take it in and out of your rain gauge holder, and will also keep them from rubbing off.

Congratulations! You now have a rain gauge! But where to put it?

That is where the coat hanger comes in. This part is going to sound a little more complicated in writing than it is in real life, so just take a good look at the pictures as you are going along and you will be able to figure it out easily. You are just basically going to use the coat hanger to make a sort of cup holder for the rain gauge. You need support on the bottom and around the sides, and you need a way to hang it up. You will are just bending a wire to do that. It really is not too tough.

Take your handy pliers (if needed) and twist apart the wire on the top to open your hanger up. Mine was a thicker hanger and the pliers definitely helped to get it started. Now you can start to make the “cradle” for the gauge.

After you have untwisted it, start from the hook side and go down to the first major bend. Open it up so the long part of your hanger makes an “L” shape (or 90 degree angle) from the hook part of the hanger. With the hook end up, place your gauge onto the long part of the hanger so it is touching the hook end of the hanger. The part underneath your gauge is what will be the bottom part of your gauge cradle. Bend the long side up so it runs parallel to the hook part. If you took your gauge off of the hanger it should look like three sides of a rectangle – two long and one shorter. The shorter one, again, is the bottom of the cradle.

From this point on you will be working with the long portion you just bent up. Keeping that part running parallel to the hook part, measure up a couple of inches and bend your wire sideways. If you had your hook piece on a wall, the other end should face either directly to the right or directly to the left. Take this part and start bending it into as much of a spiral as you can around the rain gauge. Mine ended up going around about 1-3/4 times. I had to keep sliding the gauge in and out to make sure that it fit snugly in the wire, but not so tight that I couldn’t get it out again. The idea is to make a safe place for the gauge to hang up so it isn’t blown over, but you have to be able to take it out to dump your rain water out after a storm.

Your gauge holder is now done! Wahoo! I took mine to my back fence and hammered some nails on either side of it to support it along one of my fence boards. As you can tell, my fence has seen better days so I didn’t feel too bad about hammering it into the board directly. You could also find more creative ways to fasten it if you’re worried about your fence, or if you think you may want to move it to another spot someday.

When you are looking for a location to put the rain gauge, make sure it isn’t directly under something like a tree or a roofline that would cause it to give an inaccurate reading. It’s good for it to be in the open. That being said, we’ll probably need to move ours up so the gauge itself is near the top or over the fence so the fence board itself isn’t blocking rain.

I’m planning on printing out a sheet, or having a notebook where we can record the daily rainfall and have our own household annual rainfall recording. Go us! :)

There you go! Super simple rain gauge. Fairly easy (and cool-looking) gauge holder. Now we just need to add some rain and we’re in business.

Enjoy! :)

M 4

Make Your Own Back Massager

I was talking to one of my friends about back pain that I have chronically had for years. My lower back gets tweaked really badly, to the point that I can’t twist or turn or jump without pain. And sometimes – not often lately, thankfully – it is just not being able to move without pain period.

She then passed on a wonderful tip that a friend who is a chiropractor had passed on to her. I tried it one day when I was feeling a lot of lower back pain and it WORKED!

 

Here is what you need:

Two tennis balls (or, in our case we had racquetballs on hand)

A sock

 

That’s it.

Take your lovely tennis (or other) balls.

Place them into your sock. Tie a knot to keep the balls in place (I tied ours to give the balls a little room to shift around). It is a good use for an old soccer sock.

Lay your lovely sock ball massager on the ground and lay down with your back on top of it. Arrange the balls on either side of your spine, and start slowly pushing yourself to move the sock up and down your spine. It hurts a lot, at least for me, but is good, productive pain. After doing that until I didn’t have any pain spots left, I could stand up and turn and twist without pain. Hooray!

My 7-year old also has issues with knots in his back, and was VERY happy to use this.

Thank you, Cynthia! That is a back-saver. :)

PPP 2

Pasta Tuna Salad – “Pasta Puna Pasta”

This is a big favorite in our family that I found from my friend Michelle @ Made By Michelle. It is perfect for the warmer weather that we have been having here, and is great for summer. Our kids love it enough that they have renamed it to “Pasta Puna Pasta”, and they do a little happy dance when they find out we are having it for dinner.

And yes, that is dill that you see there. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.

 

Ingredients

1-1/2 c. pasta (shell, farfalle, whatever)

1 pkg. frozen peas, thawed (10 oz.)

1-1/2 c. chopped carrots

1/4 c. onion, finely diced

2/3 c. mayo

2 T. lemon juice

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. dill weed

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can tuna (or we will use 2 cans for dinner)

 

Cook pasta; drain well and set aside to cool (or run cold water over it to cool it down faster). Combine pasta, peas, carrots, onion and tuna in a large bowl and mix well. In a smaller bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients together (mayo, lemon juice, sugar, dill weed, salt, pepper) and mix well. Pour mayo mixture over pasta mixture and toss lightly to combine.

That is it! It is very easy, and INCREDIBLY yummy. I will probably consider doubling the recipe the next time we make it because we go through it so quickly and wish there was more.

Thanks Michelle! And don’t forget to check out her blog – she is very talented, and makes a lot of cool stuff to sell. You can see her ad on the sidebar as well to get an idea of what she can do, or just go check her site out.

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