Hello. It’s Kathleen again, from Fearlessly Creative Mammas, to bring you a really great DIY Coat Rack. A little over three years ago my husband, youngest daughter and I moved to China for a year and then to Korea for a few months. We decided to rent our house out to our oldest daughter and her family while we were gone and they made some changes that were awesome for their family, mainly because they are younger and younger people’s tastes are different than older people’s taste. Yes, I am the older person in this story. [Read more…]
Happy Wednesday! This is Stephanie from Steph in Thyme.
Today, I’m sharing a simple, yet crazy delicious pasta salad that’s perfect for a summer picnic.
So perfect, I have no other choice but to call it Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad.
After the long weekend, I still have picnics on the brain. All I want to eat is food fresh from the grill along with an array of diverse sides running along the length of an outdoor table. That’s not too much to ask, right?
I love summer not for the warm days or trips to the beach, but for the large potluck gatherings and picnics. I love exploring recipes I wouldn’t ordinarily make at home for CJ (the husband) and myself. Cooking and baking for a crowd is so much more fun.
All picnics need a pasta salad, a scoop of carby goodness on the side of the plate (or, my entire plate) to energize the lawn games and activity until the sun sets. Creamy mayo-based pasta salads, glorious as they are, can feel so heavy. It’s also tricky to keep them chilled outdoors, especially on a warm day.
A tangy peanut dressing lightly coats the pasta, giving it that “must have more” essence – but without the guilt. This dressing isn’t loaded with lots of peanut butter or even added oil. It consists of creamy peanut butter (only three tablespoons for the entire pasta salad), gluten-free soy sauce, lime juice, unseasoned rice vinegar, water, and red pepper flakes. Blended until smooth, it’s a flavorful and mayo-less way to mix things up at your next picnic.
If you’re attending a picnic with gluten-free guests, this pasta salad is an excellent addition to the buffet table because everyone can eat it. And those who aren’t gluten-free won’t notice a difference.
I prefer to use Fusilli pasta for this salad because I find it easier to eat. In addition to holding the sauce better, preventing it from pooling at the bottom of the bowl, the spirals and ridges make it easier to piece the Fusilli with your fork. And the pasta stays on the fork, too! Penne, with its smooth surface, tends to slide or fall off the fork, especially with sauce coating it. Elbows and smaller pasta will work, as long as you have spoons on hand.
I mentioned that gluten-free soy sauce is used in the peanut dressing. Soy sauce actually contains wheat and is one of those hidden dangers for those following a gluten-free diet. Now, if you’re going to a picnic where gluten isn’t an issue for any of the guests, you can certainly use regular soy sauce as well as regular pasta.
The peanut sauce adds tang, but the medley of fresh veggies bring color and texture. Red bell pepper and cucumber, thinly sliced scallions, shredded carrots, cubed avocado, and shelled edamame.
I love the contrast between the crunchy vegetables and the creamy soft avocado, especially when it’s perfectly ripe. The edamame give this salad a boost of protein, so if all you want to eat at the picnic is this pasta salad, it’s at least a well rounded meal.
I would love to hear from you! What’s your favorite picnic dish? Are you known for any particular potluck recipe?
Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad
For the salad:
- 12 oz gluten-free or regular Fusilli pasta cooked and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 cucumber seeded and diced
- 2 scallions both white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 avocado seeded and cut into 1/2 " cubes
For the peanut dressing:
- 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp gluten-free or regular soy sauce
- 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, carrots, edamame, and avocado. Set aside.
- Add the peanut dressing ingredients to a blender, blending until smooth.
- Add the rinsed and drained pasta to the bowl with the vegetables. Pour the peanut dressing over top. Toss to combine, adding additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving.
Hey, it’s Lynn from Riggstown Road! Today, I’m sharing my love for decorating, especially when I can decorate with meaning. I have five children, and I love each one of them with a love so big that it hurts. Each one of them is uniquely special, both in the world and in my heart. And I want them to know that. That’s why I’m using décor to make each child feel special.
We probably all display baby pictures, and maybe some of our children’s artwork. This time, I decided to do something a little different, using something else I love- words. Usually, I use words for decorating that are either scripture or some type of proverbial saying, but for this project, I wanted words that were uniquely special to us, to our family. I also had an old framed piece of artwork that I decided to upcycle into some fresh new décor, and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to highlight a special memory surrounding one of the children. Something he knows is just about him, reminding him that I love him not just them. So I chose words that have a fun but sweet meaning behind them. Words that, if I said them right now, would make him smile.
When my son was really little, he decided to compete with me one day while we were out riding in the van, to see who could come up with the best “I love you as much as” analogy. One he used was that he loved me as much as all the trees and houses, as we were passing lots of them. I don’t remember all the things he came up with, but I could generally best him each time. Then he used a word he had learned at some point during our schooling, but that I didn’t even know he remembered. (They are listening!) He said, “I love you a googolplex.” (Actually he pronounced it “googooplex.” I love those sweet little mispronunciations, don’t you?)
In case you don’t know what the word “googolplex” means, basically, it’s the largest number with a name. It looks like a one with a whole page of zeros. It has a very interesting story behind it. You can Google it. 😉
These four little words became a special phrase for us. I’ve said it lots of times since then. Instant meaning, instant smile. Even though he’s a big ‘ol boy of seventeen now, it’s still a fun way for me to tell him I love him, in a way nobody else will. And a silly little phrase like that can help me smooth many a ruffled feather, and ease the aches of growing pains. Perfect thing to hang on the wall, don’t you think?
I only used a few simple supplies to turn these words into artwork. The idea is to think of something that will have meaning for your child and make it a part of your home. Of course, I can’t display this in my son’s room. A seventeen-year-old boy would never stand for that. Instead, it hangs in the kids’ bathroom. Guests use that bathroom, too, and to them, it’s just cute décor. For all the kids, it’s a message that mom loves them. To my son, it’s a reminder that he is uniquely special to me. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have similar projects planned for each one of my kiddos. Shhh. They won’t know ’til they see it on the wall…but when they see it, they will “get” it. They will know it’s a little message from me that says, You are special. I love you.
You have those little things, too. Just think about each of your children, and some of the special memories you have with each one. Maybe there’s a joke you like to share with your oldest. You could frame the punch line, and send it to him at college. Maybe there’s a phrase you always use to remind your daughter she’s beautiful, inside and out. Frame it and hang it above the mirror. There might be a song you always sing with your little guy in the car. Frame his favorite line from the song and put it in the mudroom, so he’ll see it every time he grabs his shoes. Or use their words, like I did. Sometimes their ideas are way better than ours!
If nothing comes to mind right away, be extra observant in the days ahead. When you have an “aha” moment, where you catch yourself saying something you always say to one of your children, but just never realized it, then take a moment and jot it down. Or, when your little one says something so sweet that you want to remember it forever, scribble it in your planner, and you’ll have it.
Then you can put together some one-of-a-kind artwork in a jiffy, and hang a memory on the wall. I love the way this looks, and I love what it says! Making one of your own is super-easy, which is great, because life for moms is busy. Also, it’s basically free, if you upcycle like I did. Isn’t is nice when we can do something that makes us and our loved ones smile without having to invest a lot of time and money?
- Stiff art paper (like watercolor paper)
- A nice, sharp Sharpie
- Picture frame
- Mark off the space for your message on the paper, with light pencil marks, using your matte or frame as a guide.
- Simply write out your message with a Sharpie.
- Assemble your frame, with the message as the picture.
(I think Mama’s handwriting makes this more personal, but if you’d rather, just print out your special message in your favorite font.)
I’m excited about the little projects I have planned for the other children. Each one will have a different message and be in a different form. Be sure to visit me at Riggstown Road to see those in the weeks ahead, and let me know what special moments you capture in word-form to highlight in your home as beautiful, unique décor, and more importantly, as a meaningful way to speak to the hearts of the special little people who live there.
These Blueberry Oat Muffins by Juggling Act Mama for Busy Mom’s Helper are loaded with fresh sweet blueberries, hearty oats and a few chopped walnuts.
I don’t know about your house, but at mine mornings are a whir of activity. The kids seem to have turned into turtles overnight, moving as slowly as possible. Despite my constant coaxing, we’re nearly always running out the door with me saying ‘ComeOnWeAreGoingToBeLate’ with a muffin or granola bar half in my mouth! Having something quick and easy, but healthy and filling that we can grab as we hustle around in the morning is our saving grace sometimes.
These blueberry oat muffins fit the bill perfectly. Last summer, we picked so many blueberries, that I froze them in gallon-size bags. Now I just thaw the berries and in no time I can whip up a batch of these on the weekend. They make great in-between meal snacks, too. These will keep in the fridge for about a week, if they last that long!
Blueberry Oat Muffins
- 1-3/4 cups quick cooking oats uncooked, divided
- 2 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon wheat germ optional
- 1 tablespoon milled flax seed optional
- 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
- 1 cup milk
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon applesauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Spread the oats and nuts on a baking sheets and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes to bring out the flavors.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites. Add the applesauce, canola oil, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Once you are done toasting the oats and nuts, set the walnuts and 1/4 cup of the oats aside for the topping.
- Preheat the oven to 400-degrees and prepare a muffin pan with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
- To the mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, milled flax seed, wheat germ, salt and the rest of the oats. Stir to combine.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups, taking care not to fill more than 3/4 of the cup. Top with the remaining oat and walnut mixed.
- Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out onto the rack and serve warm.
You can also double the recipe and make a big batch to freeze. After they cool completely, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then slide them into a gallon-size freezer bag. They’ll keep for a couple weeks in there and are great to have on hand. To thaw, just remove them from the freezer bag and set the individual muffins in the refrigerator overnight.
Love Homemade Muffins?
Try one of these other delicious recipes from Juggling Act Mama:
Hello, everyone! This is Stephanie from Steph in Thyme, and today I’m sharing my favorite breakfast toast recipe with you. For mornings when you want a satisfying breakfast without the fuss, this healthy Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Toast will fill you up and fuel you for the day ahead.
Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Toast
A slice of (gluten-free) toast with healthy fixings is my favorite way to start the day. It’s filling without feeling heavy, pairs well with that first glorious cup of coffee, and has plenty of texture and even a bit of crunch. Typically, I’ll slather almond butter over top the slice as soon as it comes out of the toaster then finish it off with a sprinkle of hemp or chia seeds. After a long, Boston winter and many many slices of this breakfast toast variation, it’s time to mix things up with fresh, lighter ingredients.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of soluble fiber and protein. Avocados contain more potassium than a banana and are rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Combining the two together really packs a nutritious punch! Both have a creamy, buttery flavor that’s heightened when combined together.
Diced red bell pepper and thinly sliced scallions bring a burst of color and texture to the creamy mixture. A touch of lime juice just before serving adds a lovely citrus brightness. This toast isn’t just for breakfast, but also makes for a quick, healthy lunch or snack as well.
I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite quick, healthy breakfast? Please share in the comments!
Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Toast
- 2 slices bread toasted (option: gluten-free bread)
- 1/2 avocado mashed
- 1/2 cup chickpeas rinsed and mashed
- 2 tbsp red bell pepper diced
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- With a fork, mash the avocado until creamy, then add to a small bowl.
- With a fork or your fingers, mash the chickpeas until a dry paste forms. Add to the same bowl as the mashed avocado.
- Combine the avocado and chickpea mash together, stirring in the diced bell peppers, thinly sliced scallions, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toast two slices of bread, then generously spoon the chickpea and avocado mixture on top. Season with additional salt and pepper and lime juice, if desired.
- Slice in half and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Hi! I’m Kathleen, from Fearlessly Creative Mammas and I am so happy to be a new contributor here at Busy Moms Helper. I blog with my sister about crafts, diy, recipes and family. We have a lot of fun over there and I hope you will come by and see us! Today I’m going to share with you a fun way to add some personality to your shoes with these fantastic Fun Fabric Shoelaces!
Your kids would love these too. They are easy to make and pretty quick as well. It took me a little longer to make these than it should have because I just moved and I couldn’t find my fabric or thread. You would think that with all of the fabric I have (there’s a lot) I would have been able to find what I was looking for. Nope. It was like a needle in a haystack. Have you ever seen fabric shoelaces? If not, today is the day you do!
This is what my shoelaces looked like before I changed them out. I truly hate it when I’m tying my shoes and the laces break. It usually happens when I’m in a hurry and you know, I don’t keep spare laces at home. Do you? The first thing I did was take the laces out of my shoes and measure them, so I made the new laces long enough. My laces were 40 inches long.
Cut a piece of fabric the length of your laces, 40 inches in this case, and 2 1/2 inches wide. You don’t want to go wider or they won’t fit in your shoes. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron it. Then cut it on the fold. (This is a great way to use some scraps.)
For each piece, fold in each side, to the middle.
Next, fold it in half. Then iron and pin it to hold it in place.
Finally, you sew each lace, all the way lengthwise, being sure to get each layer. When you start and end each lace, fold the lace in half so you are making a more narrow end. This will make it a lot easier to lace the shoes. You only need it to be the smaller size right on the ends, like regular laces.
I really love my new laces. And did you see the inside of my shoes? They almost match! These are so much fun!
I think kids would really love to have laces in their favorite colors or characters too. Don’t you? You can also make some for each holiday, to show your holiday spirit! You might be making lots of laces. Have fun with it! Who are you making your first pair of laces for?
Just because a weeknight dinner needs to be quick and simple doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy or packed with flavor. This Spiralized Zucchini with Roasted Tomatoes is ready in under a half hour and more wholesome and healthy than traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Don’t worry, you can still twirl the noodles on your fork!
Given this is my first guest post, I feel compelled to share something very personal. I’m slightly obsessed with my Spiralizer. I received a Spiralizer a year ago as a birthday gift, and it changed the way I eat vegetables. This easy-to-use kitchen tool transforms vegetables – such as zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets – into beautiful noodles of various sizes. My vegetable intake has certainly increased thanks to this handy gadget. One of my favorite uses is fresh zucchini noodles in place of pasta, although the possibilities are endless (including hearty casseroles and sandwich wrap filling).
There’s a time for simmering homemade sauce – or gravy, depending on where you stand in the terminology debate. Like, Sunday afternoons…not busy weeknights. This short-cut recipe is one of my favorites, and frankly, I prefer it over the traditional sauce I grew up with (oh boy, hope my mom isn’t reading this). On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss grape tomatoes, thinly sliced shallots, and whole garlic cloves, then generously season with salt and pepper. After 20 minutes in the oven, the tomatoes have blistered and softened, the flavor and sweetness more concentrated.
Then, the fun part. With a fork, smash everything on the baking sheet until it forms a lovely, saucy mess. After the smashing fun, stir everything together until it forms a robust sauce. The final result evokes the essence of summer, when tomatoes are sun ripened and so sweet you could eat them raw and unseasoned. This sauce, with the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes and shallots balanced by the roasted garlic, is one I can eat straight with a fork. I sometimes do, then remember the zucchini noodles (zoodles?).
The zucchini noodles only take 3-5 minutes to cook in a skillet. Faster than pasta! All you really want to do is get the zucchini noodles hot, rather than cooking through, otherwise the noodles turn wet and a bit mushy. I’ve cooked them too long way too many times, which also results in a lot of excess liquid in the pan and on the plate. We cannot have our sauce diluted! The noodles are best al dente style, softened slightly, but still with bite and texture.
Feel free to top the bowl off with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If it’s not Meatless Monday, it will pair nicely with grilled chicken or shrimp. Hope you enjoy!
Spiralized Zucchini with Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 pints grape tomatoes rinsed and patted dry
- 2 large zucchini spiralized
- 1 large shallot sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the grape tomatoes, shallot slices, and whole garlic cloves on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over top, then season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Roast the tomatoes, shallots, and garlic cloves for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes blister and start to burst open.
- Remove baking sheet from oven. With a fork, smash the ingredients together, including the garlic cloves, on the baking sheet. Stir together and season with 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, if desired.
- Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes, until noodles are heated through but still have bite and texture (think al dente).
- Divide the zucchini into four bowls, and top with the sauce. Garnish with cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.
Guys, I’m THRILLED because I get to share with you the fabulous ladies joining us this coming year! It was so hard choosing between the dozens of contributor applications we received, since there were MANY excellent ones, but I know this group was the perfect fit. So read on and Meet the 2015 Team!
You’ll be seeing these gals each month, sometimes more than once! They’ve got plenty of delish recipes, fun crafts, parenting tips and much more heading your way!
Stephanie from Steph in Thyme
Stephanie is a world traveler, food truck fanatic, yoga teacher in training, former military brat, and newlywed eating and blogging from Boston. With her blog, Steph in Thyme, she explores creative and accessible approaches to gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan meals for every day.
Angela from Juggling Act Mama
I’m Ang, the Juggling Act Mama! I’m also a writer, recipe developer, photographer, brand ambassador, and Pinterest addict! I love cooking, crafting and most of all cuddling! People close to me joke that I’m not happy unless I’ve got a hundred things up in the air, and it’s true. I love being creative whether it be with food or paper or games with the kids. I don’t have a special space for crafting, and I don’t have a huge kitchen for cooking. I’m just a regular mom with cheerios on the floor, trucks on the sideboard, and always a load of laundry that needs to be washed, dried, or folded. Or all three. Juggling Act Mama is a lifestyle blog featuring recipes, DIY projects and crafts for both adults and kids. With a team of awesomely talented contributors, and all these topics, there something for everyone!
Lynn from Riggstown Road
I’m Lynn! I am the wife of my high school sweetheart, and mom to our five kiddos. We live in a rural little area, where I am always busy schooling, reading, crafting, thrifting, decorating, gluten-free- cooking, and writing about all of these things on my blog. There’s never a dull moment at Riggstown Road, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Keri from One Mama’s Daily Drama
Keri is a freelance writer and mom of two. She spends most of her time cooking, crafting, and planning her next project. At the end of the day, you can usually find her browsing Pinterest while watching Netflix with her husband. Her blog, One Mama’s Daily Drama, is all about navigating the chaos of family life, one day at a time, with recipes, crafts, and printables.
Nicollette (Nikki) – my sister!
Hi, I’m Nicollette, or Nikki for short! I’m an athletic health fanatic that absolutely loves baking, arranging flower and candy bouquets, and playing with my husky/wolf who is adorable! I’m actually Danielle’s younger sister, and although I don’t currently have a blog, she loves my recipes and crafts, so asked if I could share some with you!
Ashley from Nurture and Thrive
Hi I’m Ashley! Recently, I left my professional job as a Developmental Psychologist to be a stay at home mom to my beautiful boy. Having studied child development becoming a mom myself was an interesting transition. I have so many questions! I began researching whatever was on my mind as a mom and my blog, Nurture and Thrive, was born. I am learning it all as a mom right along with you and I am passionate about translating the latest research so we as parents can Nurture our little ones and watch them Thrive!
Kathleen from Fearlessly Creative Mammas
My name is Kathleen and I live in Southeast Idaho with my wonderfully supportive husband. We have three grown kids and three beautiful grandkids. I love to spend time with my family, travel, create recipes, craft, sew, camp, hike and take photos. I’ve been blogging at Fearlessly Creative Mammas since April 2012, but blogging in general since February 2011 on Pebble Pirouette. My favorite place to be is the beach and although I own a home in Idaho and land in Alaska, I truly hate the cold. I’m excited to be contributing here at Busy Moms Helper and hope I can inspire some creativity in someone else.