Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Low-Tech Fun: Hand-Made Collages for ALL Ages

As I've mentioned before, we receive a million magazine subscriptions, thanks to the various rewards programs we participate in.  We read them, pass them on, keep them, recycle them... you name it.  It was snowing here last week and we were looking for something fun to do.  I spied a Better Homes & Gardens laying around and an idea sprang to mind.  It was collage-time!

This project is fun and simple, yet allows you to reap many rewards....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Double Chocolate Italian Cookies, Rolled in Sugar

As I continue to cook and bake my way through my favorite cookbook, I am uncovering some tasty gems.  My pants may be getting tighter (the things I do for my readers), but I have quite the cookie recipe for you!  Delicious, very unique, and stays fresh-tasting for a long time.  They actually taste better as the days go on!  A caveat - this recipe gets MESSY (like sugar all over your floor messy), but the end result is so unique, it's worth it.  Plus, it's a great recipe to make with the kids... Your little helpers will have a blast.

Double Chocolate Italian Cookies, Rolled in Sugar

Sunday, January 27, 2013

For Your Back Pocket...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

SIX Things You Need to Know About the City of Motherly Love

Maybe you've been with us since the beginning (thank you!), or maybe we've just met (nice to meet you!)...  Either way, here are six things you need to know about the City of Motherly Love

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The City of Motherly Love's 1st Guide to Games for Kids: Go from "Bored" to "Board"

Here in the City of Motherly Love (aka Philly suburbs), it is COLD.  Like, wind chill of 2 degrees cold.  Where's my global warming, please?!  I kid, I kid!

But, lots of time inside means finding fun things to do.  We love playing board games.  But, with a five year-old who is still learning what it means to win and lose, we need to games that end in smiles instead of tears.

After much trial and error, here is the City of Motherly Love's first guide to our favorite (and not-so-favorite) games to play on a freezing day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Easy, Healthy Banana Muffin Recipe

Do you remember getting sample sets of recipe cards in the mail?  If you liked what you saw, the whole set could be yours for the low, low price of $19.95!  Well, I actually saved some of those recipes.  Of course, I'd never actually tried one, so when I was scrapping my recipe binder (check out "Tales from the DIY Junkyard" post here!), I decided it was TIME!  The company that made them no longer exists, but the muffins I made will forever live on in my memory.  And, you know what?  They were really, really good!  Light, fluffy, healthy, great for breakfast and snack, and don't make a ton (which I actually love!).

Easy, Healthy Banana Muffin Recipe 
Makes 12 muffins

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bite Sized Dangerous Garlic Bread

The other day, I had a bit of a cooking disaster (let's just say I made something with spinach that did NOT turn out well, but that required bread for dipping).  So, I had half of a baguette left over.  I turned to my trusty DIY Heirloom Cookbook and found my old recipe for garlic bread.  I fell in love with it all over again!  It is DANGEROUS, because you can pop a piece in your mouth and nobody will be the wiser!

It's one of those recipes where you can pretend like you're on a cooking show, and not measure the ingredients, and it will still turn out great.

Friday, January 18, 2013

City of Motherly Love's Second Giveaway - Six Sisters' Stuff Goodies!

Calling All Bloggers! 

I am so excited to announce our second giveaway!  Since I started this blog a few months ago, I've been trying to learn the ropes.  One of the things I've learned is that no one does blogging better than the Six Sisters!  If you've heard of them, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, you're in for a treat.  SixSistersStuff.com offers the best recipes, crafts, giveaways, tips and more.  And, they've graciously offered three sets of their wildly popular e-books for the City of Motherly Love's second giveaway.  The books are AMAZING and are jam-packed with great ideas for YOUR blog.  We'll be giving one set away each month.  Each set contains:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Completely Free Subscription to Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

Here's a completely free subscription for one year to Better Homes & Gardens.  You don't need to provide a credit card and you won't be billed.  I've done this offer before, and it's legit!  Unfortunately, a subscription does not mean that your house or garden will automatically look like those featured in the magazine, but they're purdy to look at!

Here's how to sign up....

One Woman's Fight Against Grime - Oven Edition

We have an older white gas oven, with gray grates and those other things!  You know, the round pieces that go over the burners, but under the grates?  I am embarrassed to say that I don't know what they're called.  As you can tell from this blog, I like to cook, and within a week or two, the amount of food and grime that can attach itself to my stove top is appalling.  Over the years, I've been on a quest to find an efficient way to clean the burners and the grates.  I've tried putting the round pieces and the grates in the dishwasher multiple times and have also used various cleaners.  None of it made a difference worth writing home about (or blogging about)!  After researching, I decided to try something new....

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Best Part of Waking Up is Small Sized Toys in Your Cup!

Here's a quick Monday post for you, as you prepare your morning cup of coffee.  Hold onto that Folgers instant container when you're done with it, because it is the perfect size and shape to...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Turning Lemons into Lemonade - What I Did with TWELVE Year Old Bottled Water!!!

Last week, my son and I were cleaning out our hallway closet and we made a discovery - Two 1 gallon bottles of water.  That doesn't sound bad, does it?  Well, they had been purchased in 2001!!  That's right, 12 years ago!  We were all still listening to N'Sync, watching Moulin Rouge, and loving Jack Bauer on 24.  I had purchased the bottles right after September, 2011, in an effort to be prepared.  Without realizing it, they endured two moves in multiple counties and were with me when I got married and bought a house.  Sniff sniff.  
Yes, that says "EXPIRATION DATE: 2003"
Well, last week I realized that it was time to let them go.  But it seemed like a sin to waste that water!  What to do?

Taco Night - No Assembly Required!

I love taco night - crispy, cheesy, crunchy, GOOD!  But, I have become increasingly lazy and get tired of making all of the components, and then still having to assemble each individual one at dinner time.  Last night, I started making the ole' taco assembly line and then had the idea to turn it into a bake-ahead casserole.  Okay, well, Ortega gave me the idea and I tweaked it, but it was still delicious!  Another thing that I loved about it was that it helped me use up some of the leftovers in my fridge, like an onion and corn.  It made a TON, too! Plus, you can customize this recipe however you want.  Your family may be more willing to eat certain ingredients (like tomatoes, ahem), if they're baked in, instead of loose in a taco.

Here's how.....

Taco Night - No Assembly Required!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

City of Motherly Love Block Party - Week #2

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cooking Through the Cookbook Challenge - Cheesy Potato Casserole

In my post on Sunday, we discussed how I bailed on my DIY recipe binder and copied over the few surviving all-star recipes into my prized cookbook.  Well, after looking through it, I fell in love with it all over again.  Now, the challenge is ON to cook as many recipes as possible from it!  Back when I got it, I was newly engaged and my cooking repertoire was limited to Ellio's pizza with added american cheese slices (I'm serious!).  Aside from my FAVORITE desserts and dishes, I haven't tried as many of the gems from there as I should have.

The other night, I needed a side dish (it was omelet night - if your house doesn't have omelet night, I suggest that you get on that!).  I pulled out my trusty cookbook and made a recipe that my elementary school nurse contributed to it (how cool is that?!).  One of her family's favorite side dishes - this was easy to make and PURE comfort food all the way!

Cheesy Potato Casserole

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tales from the DIY Junkyard: What You Can Learn from Scrapping Projects

Today, I'd like to introduce a new series of posts that I'll be writing from time to time.... Tales from the DIY Junkyard! 

Despite my best efforts, sometimes a project just doesn't work. It's okay to admit it. In a lot of ways, the internet and parenting magazines are empowering, because they offer new and creative ideas. On the other hand, they can get you down, because everything looks so perfect and simple. "Look... an heirloom afghan in two easy steps!" But, like we tell our kids, things are not always as advertised.

It's easy to get discouraged thinking that people are born Martha Stewarts.  Even Martha has had some DIY disasters, I promise you. Who knows? Maybe she had a few bad starts to those prison ponchos she made and had to turn them into washcloths, instead.

And, it's not just DIY projects that can go bust... Some home organization ideas can actually make things messier, new recipes can be awful, and birthday cakes can be accidentally dropped on the floor (true story). Instead of locking these stories up in the shame vault, let's be loud and proud! Sometimes, you can learn more from failed projects than successful ones.

On that note, may I present to you: "Bailing on the Recipe Binder"

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Part II - Your Ongoing Digital Photo Strategy; Organized and Stress Free!

Earlier in the week, we talked about how to transform all of your backed-up digital pictures into real albums!  If you missed that post, check it out here....

Okay, so you're all caught up!  You have beautiful photobooks, by year, that your family can enjoy anytime.  Now what?  How can you avoid the pile-up from happening again?  Easy!  And trust me, if you I can do it, you can do it, too!  Not only am I the president of this club, I'm also a member ;)

Part II - Your Ongoing Digital Photo Strategy;  Organized & Stress-free!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stuff That Makes Me Happy - One Kings Lane

Have you subscribed to e-mails from One Kings Lane?  If so, you know where I'm going with this.... Now, I have to admit, I've never bought anything from there (not yet!).  For now, it's just pure eye candy.   One Kings Lane assembles themed e-mails, filled with household goodies for sale.  This most recent one is making like Calgon, and taking me away!

I've always loved beachy themed, tropical things, and a lot of my artsy projects have followed that path.  When I was growing up, my parents kindly painted my bedroom closet doors the brightest turquoise upon my request, and I still love that color to this day!
These towels are making me want to go buy two canvasses and get to work!

Here are some of my favorite things I'm looking at today....  The colors and patterns are so inspiring... They make me want to get out there and create.  What do you think?  What gets you going?

Cookie Dough Dip! Note to Self: Make this Dessert

It's Friday morning, and I am going through dessert withdrawal from the holidays.  And then, I see this.... 

Monster Cookie Dough Dip, from the Girl Who Ate Everything.... 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

City of Motherly Love Block Party - Week #1

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Help Your Digital Pictures Shine - How to Transform Your Backed-up Pictures into Real Albums

A philosophical question - if your pictures are only on your camera or computer, do they really exist?
Seriously, sometimes I miss the old days... Do you remember finishing a roll of film, and then running to get it developed?  Sure, your thumb might've guest-starred in a picture or two, or you might've had some scary red eye, but it was physical photographic evidence that your vacation (or pageant or party) actually happened!

Don't get me wrong - I love my digital camera.  People run when they see me coming, because I snap pictures non-stop.  After my son was born, my condition took a turn for the worse.  Soon, I realized there were thousands of shots on my computer and no actual albums to show for it.  Something had to be done.  So, little by little, I implemented the following digital picture organization strategy, and I'd like to share it with you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Completely New Way to Look at Resolutions

Happy New Year to everyone, from the City of Motherly Love!  I hope your holiday season was filled with all good things (including an abundance of chocolate).

Now that the New Year is here, so is the pressure to make resolutions.  I used to make all of the standard ones, like "Lose weight", "Exercise 4 times a week", "Learn a New Language" or "Organize the House."  You know - very specific promises that ain't gonna happen, which results only in feeling bad about ourselves.

A few years ago, I read some awesome advice about to completely change the way we approach resolutions...