“Operation: Bless the U.S.!”

Join our family as we take a day out of the crazy holiday season to bless those around us! Here’s the plan. Gather up a bunch of candy canes, Christmas candies, greeting cards, gift cards, etc. (however big or small you want to go). Print out the tags (below) and attach them to each item.  Then, on Saturday, December 22nd, 2012, put all of your little “blessings” into a bag (or 2!) and hand them out to anyone you run into who looks like they could use a smile that day. You can do this no matter what kind of plans you have for that day…even if you’re out of town! Get your kids involved…they will LOVE it! Post on your Facebook page and invite your friends. Tell your church. Get your neighbors to do it too. Let’s join together and see how many people we can bless this Christmas!!!

Get the tags to print out here!


December 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Teaching RESPECT with “Respect Bracelets”

We have really been struggling at the Born house and it all boils down to the kids having a lack of RESPECT.  We define respect as acting kindly, speaking kindly, and obeying immediately (with no “buts”!).  About a week ago, I started brainstorming a way to hold them accountable and help them learn how to respect others, without constantly correcting them and driving myself crazy!   I literally felt like I was addressing this every five  minutes!!  Well, here’s what I came up with.  Respect bracelets!  (or tailor it to whatever behavior you are working on)

Each child gets a bracelet made of a pipe cleaner and 10 plastic beads.  Make sure you bend over the ends so that they don’t poke the kids!  Throughout the day, anytime a child shows disrespect (remember the definition above), have them give you a bead.  At first, you will need to explain why they are losing a bead, but before long, you can have them tell you the reason.  Collect the beads in your pocket, or wear your own respect bracelet to put them on.  Before they go to bed, check the bracelets together.  If they still have all ten beads, they get a “big surprise”!  I do this, so that it’s flexible for me.  I get to choose whatever works for that day.  It might be 15 minutes of wii time, 2 pieces of candy, a trip to the park, etc….whatever works for you!  If they have 5 or less, they get a consequence (again, determined each night by you).  Anywhere between 6-9 gets them a “small surprise”.  As they get used to this new system, you can adjust the amount of beads required for each level, or even take out the “small surprise” level.


Benefits of using the bracelets:
1. Because it’s worn- they don’t loose track of it, it’s always with them so things can be dealt with immediately, and it’s a constant reminder of what they are working on

2. You can keep track of the behavior without feeling like you’re constantly disciplining your children…so much less stressful for both parents and kids!

3. Once one behavior has been dealt with, you can move on to something else that needs work!

So far, this has worked wonderfully!!!  They have jumped right in and love the fact that they can earn surprises.  They have lost very few beads and the stress level at the Born house has decreased dramatically =)  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

February 7, 2012 in Homeshooling
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Honey Mustard Sauce

Just like TGI Fridays!  Half the fun of eating homemade chicken tenders or potato fries is dipping them in something amazing and flavorful, right?  In my home, my children LOVE to dip….in fact, my daughter has been dubbed the “Dipping Queen”.  The next time you make tenders, try some of this sauce on the side.  You’ll be glad you did =)

Honey Mustard Sauce

2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix together in a bowl with a whisk and serve.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

June 2, 2010 in Being Frugal, Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Strawberry Salad w/Poppyseed Dressing

This is a deliciously refreshing summer salad.  I remember having it a few summers ago when my aunt made it, but of course it had store-bought dressing.  Here is a simple recipe for the salad itself, as well as the splendid dressing that my friend Christy shared with me from her collection.  Enjoy!

Strawberry and Onion Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing


Romaine lettuce
1 pt. fresh strawberries, sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
Grilled chicken (if desired)
Pecans or walnuts (if desired)

Dressing Recipe:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar (I use unbleached, organic)
1/4 cup whole milk
2 T poppy seeds (sometimes I even leave the poppy seeds out so they don’t get stuck in my teeth!)

Put all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended.  Store leftover dressing in refrigerator for several days.

June 2, 2010 in Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Homemade Vanilla Wafers

Who doesn’t love a tasty vanilla wafer?  Use them in your baking, a little banana pudding, or just as a snack with some coffee….no matter what you choose, they are fabulous!  I have tried a few different recipes and couldn’t find one I loved, so naturally I tweaked them to make what I like.  For this recipe, I chose to use unbleached, organic sugar rather than sucanat or rapadura.  The reason?  Simply the taste.  I felt like the vanilla flavor was tainted too much when using other sugars that have more of a “molassasy” (is that even a word?!?) flavor.  When using the unbleached, organic sugar, you really taste the vanilla, making them true “vanilla” wafers in my opinion.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Homemade Whole Wheat Vanilla Wafers

1/2 cup butter, softened (not melted!)
1 cup unbleached, organic sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tbsp. milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Stir in flour, salt and baking powder.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (NOT wax paper…big difference!).

Drop very small blobs of dough onto your baking sheet, no bigger than a dime.  Make sure you spread them out because they will spread as they bake.

Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes, then leave them in the oven to dry out further, leaving you with yummy, crispy little vanilla wafers to munch on to your heart’s content!

June 2, 2010 in Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Honey Graham Crackers

Wow, life caught up with me and it’s been WAY too long since I have posted.  I have still been trying new, fun recipes, but just haven’t had a chance to post them.  I’ll try to catch you all up on my adventures as quickly as possible =)  The other day, I tried some whole wheat honey graham crackers.  The result???  YUM!  I had my family and several friends serve as my taste-testers and the response was unanimous….delicious!  I also made marshmallows so that we could take them with us to make s’mores to share with some great friends!  Here is the recipe I used from heavenlyhomemakers.com

Whole Wheat Honey Graham Crackers

2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rapadura or sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice)(you can also use brown sugar)
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ t. cinnamon
4 T. honey
¼ c. water
1 t. vanilla
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt stick of butter in a pan on the stove. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
4. Add the liquids: honey, water, vanilla and melted butter.
5. Stir well until a nice ball of dough is formed.
6. Cut two pieces of Parchment paper the size of the cookie sheet.
7. Lay one piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
8. Place the ball of dough on the parchment paper.

9. Lay the other piece of parchment paper on top of the ball of dough. Squish dough down a little with your fist.
10. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough between the pieces of parchment paper. Roll until the dough covers the whole cookie sheet.
11. Remove the top piece of parchment paper.  Cut rolled dough into 2 inch squares, or cut shapes with cookie cutters, being sure to separate the shapes from the surrounding dough a little.12. Bake in oven for 18 minutes.
13. Turn oven off, but leave crackers in the oven to get crisp.
14. Remove from oven after 30 minutes to one hour.  Break graham crackers apart.
15. Store in a air tight container.

June 2, 2010 in Cooking Fun!, Recipes

Simple homemade pasta

Tonight was a FUN night.  I have always wanted to try making my own pasta, without a pasta maker (other than myself of course!) =)  It was sooooo easy!  Give it a shot and then pat yourself on the back.  You’re awesome!

Pasta dough ball

Pasta dough rolled out, being cut into noodles

Homemade Noodles

6 whole Eggs
3 cups flour (I used whole wheat)

Rule of thumb: Two eggs per one cup of flour.

Make a well in the center of your pile of flour and crack in your eggs. Slowly mix together with your hands. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead (roll, punch, push, etc.) by hand until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to the board as necessary.

Let the dough rest for a little while before rolling it out. You can sort of figure on one egg per person to determine how much dough to make. Example: Two eggs and one cup of flour would make enough pasta dough for a dinner for two.

When you’re ready, roll it out on a well-floured (make sure it’s got plenty of flour so the noodles won’t stick!) surface as thinly as it’ll go. The noodles will plump up quite a bit when they boil in the water, so the thinner you can roll it, the better. Cut the noodles really thin. You can use a sharp knife (if you can keep it in a straight line), a pizza wheel, or a long pizza/bread cutter.

To cook the noodles, just boil them in salted water (very important!) for probably two minutes. They cook lightning fast, so don’t let them go too long.

(Recipe from www.thepioneerwoman.com)

April 7, 2010 in Being Frugal, Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Chicken Tenders- make them ahead and freeze them!

If you enjoy having some pre-made “convenience” foods in your freezer, you can easily make extra for dinner tonight and freeze the leftovers.  I often hear moms who say, “I want to feed my children healthy foods, but all they want is chicken nuggets, and they are SOOO easy!”  I am a firm believer in feeding your children what you want them to eat…if that’s all you’re offering, they will eat it!  But, I digress (I’ll save that for another post =)  You can easily cut up some chicken breasts into tenders (or just buy tenders) and cook them up for your kids.  Use organic chicken, bake them instead of frying, use your homemade bread crumbs from your leftover whole wheat bread, and wow, now you have a healthy, frugal alternative to the overly processed mess from McDonald’s or the freezer section that you would be feeding your kids.  If you love having the convenience of nuggets in the freezer, ready to be heated up at a moment’s notice, set aside an hour and whip up a double or triple batch of tenders, bake them, cool them and freeze them!  You can pop out however many you need and simply reheat.

This is a great time for the kids to help cook. Set up an assembly line and go for it!

Chicken Tenders

1 1/2lbs chicken breasts
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 whole eggs, beaten with a fork
1/4 cup milk
2-3 cups bread crumbs

First, preheat your oven to 375.  Now, cut your breasts into tenders or smaller pieces if you want them to resemble nuggets.  Next, set up your assembly line!  In the first bowl, put your flour and mix in some salt and pepper.  In the next bowl, mix your eggs and milk together.  In the last bowl, put your bread crumbs in and mix in a little garlic and onion powder.  Now you can start assembling.  Take a piece of chicken, coat it with the flour and shake off any excess.  Dip it into the egg mixture bowl, then in the bread crumbs (roll it around to make sure it gets covered!).  You can spray your baking sheet with olive oil spray of you want to, but if the tenders are well coated with bread crumbs, they shouldn’t stick.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper if desired, then bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.  They should be golden brown and cooked through.  If you want to freeze them, let them cool completely and then put into labeled freezer containers or freezer bags.

April 7, 2010 in Being Frugal, Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Breakfast Turkey Sausage

If we want to have some awesome turkey sausage with breakfast, of course, we make it!  Homemade sausage patties are unbelievably easy to make as well as unbelievably yummy.  They are also much cheaper than buying them pre-made in the store.  I use an electric griddle to cook it up much quicker than in the skillet.  I also make a double batch and refrigerate half for breakfast throughout the week and then freeze the other half for later.  It’s a little on the spicy side, a really nice little “kick” to it, so feel free to cut back on the cayenne and black pepper a little if you like it tamer.

Turkey Sausage (allrecipes.com)

2 pounds ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, ginger, salt, sage, cayenne pepper, and black pepper until well blended.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Form the turkey sausage into patties, and fry until browned on both sides, and no longer pink in the center. This should take about 10 minutes.
March 28, 2010 in Being Frugal, Cooking Fun!, Recipes
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Chopped Apple Cake

Over the past few days, I have made several apple cakes for various events and have been asked (make that BEGGED!) for the recipe.  Here it is!  This is my favorite apple cake recipe….so moist and flavorful.  I actually had it as one of the layers of my wedding cake years ago (yes, I love it THAT much!).  You can also top it with cream cheese frosting if you would like to, but it can stand on it’s own two feet just fine.  But for those of you who can’t do without the cream cheese frosting (it is super tasty), I will post that one soon.  This cake also freezes very well!  Make one batch, enjoy half for dessert tonight and save half for your company next week!


1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar (I use unbleached sugar)
2 eggs
2 cups sifted flour (I use hard white wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cups finely chopped apples

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and beat for one minute.  In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients, then add to the butter mixture.  Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and apples.  Pour into TWO greased 8-inch pans.  Bake for about 30min at 350.  Check the center with a toothpick to make sure it’s done (should come out clean!).

March 28, 2010 in Cooking Fun!, Recipes, Uncategorized