Summer Spinach Pasta Salad

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Great side for those upcoming summer potlucks and BBQ’s! It comes together quickly and it’s something different that no one else will be bringing. 4 main ingredients and then a simple dressing that will make everything pop!

  • 5 oz Baby Spinach
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup bite sized mozzarella pieces
    (*I cut up the mozzarella string cheese I had on hand)
  • 8 oz cooked Penne Pasta

Dressing:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 3 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Put baby spinach into large container
  2. Add grape tomatoes and mozzarella pieces
  3. Put cooked pasta in
  4. Whisk together the dressing and pour over everything
  5. Mix to coat everything with the dressing
  6. Enjoy! Can be served right away or put in the fridge for later.
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5 Dates Under $25

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My husband and I love a good date night, or day date! And as fun as going out to a fancy dinner is, the bank account can’t take much of that. So here are 5 dates that we have personally loved for under $25.

Cheese & Wine

Just last night, the hubby had a fantastic idea! Let’s go to our local grocery store and pick out some fancy cheeses to try. Our King Soopers down the street now has a cheese station! We picked out 5 samplers that looked good and a bottle of wine. Our dinner that night consisted of crackers, cheese, and wine. It was great! The price of this date really depends on how many kinds and the prices of the cheeses you pick out. But it is very possible to stay under $25.

Movie & Snacks

Go by your local Dollar Tree and pick out some sweet and savory snacks, grab a Redbox, and go cuddle up with your sweetie! Movie theater snacks are widely known to be very expensive. So if you do decide to hit the theater, you can still save a ton of money by stopping at the Dollar Tree first.

Spa Night

You can start off by making some dinner together (he can grill and you can make the sides/dessert). Then take a hot shower or bath together to get nice and relaxed. After that I like to set up the room like a spa would, but more romantic. I turn off the lights, light some candles, turn Pandora on to “Spa Music”, and warm up some lotion for the massage. I like to use “Sensual” by Bath and Body Works’ aromatherapy line. Putting on a nice little outfit for him certainly doesn’t hurt 😉 Then give each other a nice full body massage.

This is our annual Valentines date night now and let me just say that it has changed my husband’s perspective about this holiday lol He used to be a big complainer when this time rolled around each year. “It’s just a way to make more money….I show you I love you everyday of the year….etc. etc.” Not that I don’t agree, but hey I’m a woman and I like romantical things. I don’t however like the crowds and spending my valentines surrounded by hundreds of people instead of just the one that’s important.

Mountains/Hiking & Pic-Nic

We live in Colorado so the mountains are never too far away. An hour’s drive and we’re surrounded by beauty and mountain air. We pick a trail (usually pretty easy since I’m not what you’d call an athlete), take in our natural surroundings, and have some good conversation. If you don’t live near mountains, you can still find a lake or area with some hiking trails. Pack a cooler with snacks or lunch so you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat or spending money. Plus, eating a picnic with great scenery is awesome!

Coffee & Bookstore or Mall 

We enjoy wandering around book stores and neat shops in the mall. At the bookstore we usually grab a coffee and sip while we browse. At the mall we like to find small, neat little kitchen or home gadgets. At Crate & Barrel the other night we got some Easter cookie cutters and sanding sugars (for decorating cookies). I like to bake and my husband likes to eat what I bake, so it was technically for both of us 😉 The cutters were $9 and the sugars were $4. It was fun spending the time together and we didn’t spend very much.

Extra Dating Tips:

Groupon

Groupon has provided us with some great new experiences, and low-budget dates. We’ve tried new places for brunch or dinner, saw cool shows, and got discounts on ice cream, coffee, pizza, etc. We even found an amazing bed & breakfast through Groupon that we have been back to twice. That was obviously more than $25, but we still got a great deal on it and have made wonderful weekend memories there.

Local Tours

Find out what places near you give tours. A lot of them are free or low cost. Celestial Seasonings Tea located in Boulder gives free tours, so we went there one day. It was fun, informative, and we picked up some new teas to try afterwards.

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Me and my other half

Buddy the Elf Christmas Party

We had a Christmas party last weekend and it was a blast! I especially had fun decorating and incorporating a Buddy the Elf theme. That is my favorite holiday movie! For the dessert table I had a cake with candy canes on top to imitate the 7 levels of the candy cane forest, chocolate peppermint bark, snowflake gumdrops, marshmallows, petite tree cakes, and sugar cookies.

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Dessert Table

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Peppermint bark, homemade snowflake gumdrops, & marshmallows

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We served Coconut Vanilla Bellini’s for a Christmas cocktail. The cup rims are coated in red and green sugar.

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I printed off quotes from the movie and set them around the party

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Coffee station with coffee quote: “You did it! Congratulations! World’s Best Cup of Coffee. Great job everybody!”

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Table Setting: I found a very cute book of Christmas scrapbook papers. I used these as place mats and every setting had a different design.

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Centerpiece: Pine cone filled basket and 2 large mason jars filled with cranberries and ice. (Secret: that’s not real ice. It’s water and plastic wrap)

Such a fun party! We served Olive Garden lasagna, bread sticks, and salad for dinner. For the entertainment portion of the party we played “Minute to Win it” games and Holiday Family Feud.

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November Craft Kit

November’s Paper Pumpkin by Stampin’ Up came with LOTS of stuff!

They give you some suggestions for how to make some cute fall cards like this:

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With it being just a few days away from Thanksgiving, I decided to make place cards with them for our bible study dinner.

With so many different papers, stamps, and embellishments I decided to make each one a little different. On the inside I wrote that I was thankful for their friendship and then something about them I was thankful for.

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If you enjoy doing some crafty stuff, but don’t always have craft supplies on hand, these boxes are perfect! They supply you with everything you need, and the papers are already cut out for you. The only thing you need is glue. I use a glue pen like this one:

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You can find these at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or even order it off Amazon.

 

To learn more about Stampin’ Up you can go to my Aunt’s page @

http://www.stampwithjoy.stampinup.net/

 

 

Chicken and Noodles (Crockpot)

The weather is getting colder, to my dismay. Right around this time I start wondering why I don’t live in Florida.palmtrees

But, I do enjoy curling up in my comfy clothes under a blanket with a plate of something warm and delicious. So here is something warm and delicious 🙂 Chicken and noodles with tender carrots and celery.

I cooked a couple of chicken breasts in the crock pot the day before, then shredded and stuck it in the fridge for this recipe the next day. Super simple.

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Shredded using my stand mixer

You could also pick up a rotisserie chicken. Better yet, Costco sells rotisserie chicken already picked off the bones and packaged for you.

So I cut up my carrots and celery firstIMG_1996

Then I put 3 Tablespoons of dried minced onion. Next time I will cut up a fresh onion. I didn’t really taste onion at all with the dried. I added my pre-cooked shredded chicken and organic chicken stock.

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And for the noodles I used Grandma’s Noodles found in the frozen section. You’ll want them to be thawed enough that you can pull the noodles apart when adding them in. I just sprinkled salt and pepper but next time I’ll kick it up a notch and add in some more spices. Rosemary, thyme, garlic, whatever suits your fancy 🙂

Cook that on low for about 5 hours (different crock pots vary of course). And by dinnertime you’ll be happily warming up with some chicken and noodles.

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Chicken & Noodles

 Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded (or in bite sized pieces)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut
  • 5 celery stocks, chopped up
  • 32-40 oz chicken stock/broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package Grandma’s Noodles (11 oz)
  • Spices (salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Put it all in the crock pot and let cook on low for approximately 5 hours. Yields 5-6 servings.

Paper Pumpkin Craft Kit

I love the look and care that goes into homemade crafts and gifts. But sometimes what you thought was going to be a pretty simple craft, turns out to be not so simple. The nice thing about craft kits is that most or all of the materials are provided for you. There’s ideas and instructions too. My aunt is a Stampin’ Up demonstrator and their craft kit is called “Paper Pumpkin”. I was pretty excited when it came in the mail, wrapped all pretty in tissue paper 🙂

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Paper Pumpkin by Stampin’ Up

 I opened it up to find out what the month’s craft entailed

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Halloween Treat Bags!

There were both paper instructions and a YouTube link to a how-to video. Both were very helpful! All I had to add was some candy.

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Reese’s Pieces in a bag with string

It was very easy to put together and a cute way to give out Halloween treats. Also, how cool is that straw?! Ta-Da! The finished product:

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Treat Bag with “You’re So Sweet” tag

My fringe didn’t turn out as curly as in the picture. But I still think its cute 😉

Things I loved about this Paper Pumpkin Craft Kit:

  • It came with 15 different stamps to choose from!
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  • Ink pad was included
  • The tags were pre-cut and had holes punched in them so I just had to glue and string it through
  • There was a video! Written instructions is all fine and dandy but I really do need a step by step visual
  • There was a thick piece of pre-cut card stock to fit in the bottom of the bag. This made the bag stand up well and was easier to work with

I will be getting another one this month that I will also share with you! Here is a link to my aunt’s Stampin Up page if you’d like to learn more about them and other projects you can do:

http://www.stampwithjoy.stampinup.net/

Fall Porch

Fall is coming very soon. Maybe too soon. But I’m starting to be okay with that after seeing the fall decor at all the stores. I went to Home Depot for paint and came home with an extra item:

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So cute! Hanging this on my door  got me in the mood for some more porch decorating. I’ve had these 2 black lanterns laying around my house for a while now. So I filled them with leftover fall leaves, berries, and pumpkins I had from last year. Then added some burlap.

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Here’s the porch so far:

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The sign in the flower pot says, “Come In My Pretties” (Target dollar section find). I’m sure I’ll add more but this has got me started. I have visions of some hay, pumpkins, maybe a wheelbarrow. So many ideas out there! Here’s a few of my favorites:

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If you have chairs on your porch, adding fall pillows would be an easy way to decorate! http://www.homedit.com/10-diy-burlap-fall-decorations/

Get your fall decorating juices flowing! And if a pumpkin spice latte will help, I’m not going to stop you 🙂