Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Maple-Glazed Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Pears

Maple-Glazed Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Pears Maple-Glazed Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Pears

In New England, where I live, there are so many grand maple trees that the syrup goes into everything.

You often find it in pots of baked beans instead of molasses, as well as in all kinds of cakes, pies, and other sweet desserts.

Maple syrup also makes its way into simple weeknight dishes like this skillet chicken recipe, where it turns into a glaze.

School Paperwork Organization & Printables!

School Paperwork Organization & Printables! School has been back in session for a few days, weeks, even a month or two for some, and it is always a bittersweet thing. It is a sign that warm summer days are numbered but daily routines are back and welcomed.

My boys have all been attending school full time for quite a few years now; my oldest is a junior (I can't even) and my youngest just started fifth grade. We have done the back-to-school organizing thing enough now that it has become easier and smoother and we all stress less and less. So instead of throwing everything at you in a single post, I thought that over the next few weeks I would focus on a few different "organizing with kids" tricks, and cover what has worked and what we are still working on.

To get started, I am revisiting one of my very first posts which is also the most popular in all of my eight years of blogging. Organizing school paperwork!

That's right! As of today, the original post has been pinned over 697,000 times! Clearly, school paperwork is a topic that so many of us have to deal with on a daily basis, and any help we can get is always appreciated.

However, since I originally created the printables and wrote the post, a couple of things have changed. Our process has been streamlined, I have learned better labeling methods and my printable style has evolved. In fact, those oldie printables didn't even print correctly for all of my readers (which is the worst) and the labels were designed for address labels instead of file folder labels (what was I thinking!?).

So I finally did something about it for you all! New printables and a few new tips to go with them.

Our school district has been making a lot of progress in their attempts to go paperless. Over the years I have noticed fewer papers coming home and more communications happening via online newsletters and websites. So good! And since my original post, I have also discovered document scanners, so there is that.

But we still need to have a process and flow for the papers and homework that do make it home.

T I P   O N E

Create a workflow for the paper, and keep it as easy as you possibly can. When the boys bring home something that requires my attention, I ask they create a pile for me right on the kitchen table. This ensures I will see it and that I will touch it before serving dinner. If I don't give the papers back directly to the boys right away, I have gotten myself into the habit of leaving forms at their breakfast spot so they see them first thing in the morning.

Think about your routine and how you can be sure to always see the papers and return the papers. I stopped using an inbox for immediate action items because I found they would instantly get lost in a stack. If they are sitting out where we need to eat, I am sure to touch them and take action at some point before the kids go back to school the following day (and because I don't like any table/counter clutter I know the pile will be taken care of quickly). If a form comes home with important dates, I either stick the form into my planner or write down the details and recycle/file it away.

T I P   T W O

Create a spot for charts and study guides. Each of our boys has a personal workspace with a bulletin board or wall pocket. This is where they store their weekly reading logs and study guides because this is where they do their homework. When a new form comes home, they know to either turn in or recycle the previous documents.

T I P   T H R E E

Assign a holding zone. Each boy has a slot in a cabinet in our dining area, and it holds everything that needs to be referenced or dealt with until a certain time frame expires or until I have the time to deal with it for good. Examples may be forms with sports details or hard copies of long-term activity notes and schedules or those extra special assignments and works of art that I just can't let myself part with. Anything that requires some thought or that may need to be referenced again at a later date.

(We have a similar method for our bills/personal paperwork. When the mail comes in, it is promptly sorted into two piles; to-do/to-pay and recycle. We have an inbox that any actionable items go into and then we manage those items once per week).

T I P   F O U R

File away the memories.

Let me preface this tip with the understanding that what you decide is important to keep is most likely different than what I find important. I am a sentimentalist, and I have learned that time is short, milestones are valued and my memory isn't the best. I love to look back at things my kids wrote at certain ages or documents showing their test results and grades for certain periods of their lives. This is important to me, but I understand it isn't important to everyone. There is no right or wrong answer as to what you should keep and what you should toss. My general rules for the items I chose to keep and store are:

  • A reflection of a milestone (handwriting, new math skill, growth, etc...)
  • A story or piece of writing that wows me/takes me by surprise
  • Important tests/test results
  • Report cards
  • Awards/certificates
  • Letters home from teachers/staff (both the good and the bad)
  • Pieces of art that took time and effort

When it comes to art, only the very best/favorites are kept in their original form. Most are displayed on our walls, sitting on shelves or stored away inside of art boxes. Everything is photographed and stored virtually with the Artkive app. I love this app because it allows me to photograph the art, assign it to a specific kid, and stores the photo and the details (child, date, grade, etc...) to my account. I have been doing this for years now and I can still pull up art from when my boys were in Kindergarten. The best part is that it isn't taking up any extra space in our home. Artkive also has an online store that allows you to turn the artwork into memory books or canvases or calendars... This has been my chosen way to manage artwork, but there may be a variety of new and different apps available on the market that function in similar ways.

The rest of those documents are filed away into file folders by year.

And that is where the printables come in handy!

First, I created new templates for file folder labels that can be accessed and downloaded for anyone on a Windows machine or a Mac! They were designed to be downloaded and opened with Adobe Reader and printed on Avery File Folder Labels (8366).




You can also label the file folders with any standard label maker, I have been using this one and I really love the variety of options that it offers.

As you can see above, I created a few different color schemes for the labels to offer some added variety.

Once all of the file folders are labeled, I like to add a coversheet to each folder with a place for the child's school portrait and details about each year.



The coversheets simply tuck inside the front of each folder.

Quick Tip: I originally filed all of these folders inside of three very large document boxes, but quickly found they were too bulky and heavy to easily access and maintain. I recommend sticking to a standard desktop file box size or even a space-saving expandable 13-pocket folder.

The new coversheets were designed to fit a 5x7 portrait size or smaller.

S T E P   F I V E 

Backup everything digitally. The entire reason I fell in love with the idea of doing this for myself and my kids is that my parents held onto things from my childhood, as did my husband's parents from his. During many visits, these papers come out and we laugh, cry and share stories from our childhoods. I love looking back at my highs and lows and revisiting both the great accomplishments and not-so-proud moments that made me who I am today. And I have learned so much about Bryan as a kid, and especially enjoy finding similarities between him and our boys.

The thought of all of those memories and milestones and documents being lost or destroyed makes my heart crumble. And we all know that it can happen all too fast and completely unexpectedly. A number of years ago we added a document scanner to our office and it has made scanning in a stack of papers a breeze. The PDF's are then uploaded and stored online. We are big Dropbox users but Google Drive and Amazon Prime (free storage for Prime members) are also great options.

Once the systems are initially set up, they are pretty easy to maintain (and update) year after year. And I am so happy that someday my boys will have the opportunity to come back home with their families and look back at their folders and share their stories.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Salsa Verde Chicken Bake

Salsa Verde Chicken Bake Salsa Verde Chicken Bake

This recipe is so easy, it’s surprising how good it is!

You just line a baking dish with chicken breasts, pour over plenty of salsa verde, bake, sprinkle with some cheese, bake some more, and presto wham-o you’re there. Serve over rice to absorb the sauce.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Tomatillo Salsa Verde Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Growing up we always had a choice of two kinds of salsa – a red tomato salsa which we made from scratch, and a salsa verde, or green salsa, which we got from a bottle (Victoria brand).

As a kid I always thought that green salsa was made from green tomatoes, but actually it is made with a Mexican relative of a tomato, the naturally tart tomatillo (pronounced “toe-mah-TEE-yo”), which looks like a little green tomato covered with a husk.

Winter Garden Prep, Tasks to Do before the Snow Arrives - Frugal Family Home

Winter Garden Prep, Tasks to Do before the Snow Arrives - Frugal Family Home

Get your garden ready for winter so you can have an easier time gardening come spring. These winter garden prep tasks will help you get your garden winter ready.

Winter will be here before you know it and it will be time to let gardening go until the spring.

But before winter arrives there are a few winter garden prep chores you’ll want to do to make sure your garden is ready to go in the spring.

Garden tasks you’ll want to do before the snow flies. When winter sets in it’s time to put the garden to bed. These winter garden prep tasks can help you get your garden ready for winter so your work will be less in the spring.

This is the last Tuesdays in the Garden post for this season. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the great gardening ideas and tips that have been shared by all the Tuesdays in the Garden gardeners. I know I always learn something new.

With this being the last of our gardening posts it’s only fitting that we share a few winter gardening tips. After all the little bit you do in the winter when you put the garden to bed, can really make a big difference in how easy the garden is to care for in the spring.

Some of these tips overlap with the fall garden prep chores, which I think is good. Fall can be really busy and even if you missed the fall window to do a few of these items you can still get to them now before the snow flies.

Garden tasks you’ll want to do before the snow flies. When winter sets in it’s time to put the garden to bed. These tasks can help you get your garden ready for winter so your work will be less in the spring.

Winter Garden Prep, What to do Before the Snow Flies

When you put your garden to bed will rely depend on where you live. For us, in the north, we usually garden until right around mid-November. Then with the short days and cooler weather things slow down.

I haven’t tried to grow a garden under cover in the winter yet but it’s on my garden bucket list to do one of these years.

If you live in the south you might be able to garden almost all year round. So you might not be putting your garden to bed but transitioning to cool weather crops. Some of these tips can still apply.

Clean up the garden beds

If you haven’t already tidied up the garden beds right before winter sets in is a good time. Pull out any dead or dying plants clear out any weeds. Fewer weeds now can mean fewer weeds in the spring.

Don’t forget to add protection to winter-tender plants. You can use mulch or even leaves to cover them and insulate them during the winter months.

Provide Protection

If you are trying to extend your growing season be sure to keep your vegetable garden watered, weeded and covered if needed. It’s time to put on extra protection to keep those plants you planted late in the summer thriving.

Be sure to check regularly on a covered garden. There might be lots of rain in the early winter but the covered garden will get very little, keep a watch and water before the garden gets dry.

Plant Your Garlic

Get your garlic in before it’s too late. I know I’m usually so busy in the fall I forget to get my garlic in. Then I remember in the spring. Make a note to yourself and get your garlic planted now if it’s not been done yet. You’ll be glad when you’re harvesting your garlic next year.

Garden tasks you’ll want to do before the snow flies. When winter sets in it’s time to put the garden to bed. These winter garden prep tasks can help you get your garden ready for winter so your work will be less in the spring.

Gather your Leaves or Mulch Them

Don’t let leaves lay around in the yard. If you like to have a nice looking lawn like my hubby does keep those leaves picked up. If the leaves are left to lay around they will cause the lawn to die and you’ll have bare spots to fill in.

If you have as many tree leaves as we do you’ll have lots of bare spots to fill in on the lawn. Keeping the leaves picked up can really help in how well your lawn does during the winter.

If picking up all those leaves seems like too much of a pain, you can mulch them with a mulching lawn mower. The small pieces of leaves don’t hurt the lawn like full leaves do and can help feed the lawn too.

The mulched leaves can be used to cover your garden or without mulching, you can use leaves to cover and protect your winter timid plants.

A layer of leaves on the strawberries can help them stand up to the cold winter weather better.

One word of warning though. Don’t use oak leaves in the garden or beds. They take forever to break down. I found this out the hard way when my hubby mulched a bunch of our oak leaves, added them to our garden beds and they stuck around forever.

For oak leaves, I’d suggest picking them up and moving them out.

I love my hosta plants. They grow like crazy in my shade garden and looks so beautiful too. I’m always getting comments on how beautiful they are. But they can get a little big and need to be divided. If you have a hosta or two that needs to be scaled down here’s a great tutorial on how to divide a hosta plant. You can bless a neighbor or friend with the extra plants or add more to your own garden.

Divide Your Perennials

If you haven’t divided your perennials yet now would be a great time to do it. I try to divide my perennials in the fall or spring but if time has gotten away from you, early winter is a great time to tackle this garden task. Be sure to water in transplants well especially if rain is scarce where you live.

Cover your Garden Beds

If you won’t be growing more vegetables under covers this year, it’s time to put them to bed by covering your garden beds.

I started the process of covering my beds once my fall garden items were done with plastic. I clear the plants out and then place a layer of black plastic down on the garden beds. Then let them sit all winter long covered.

Keeping them covered helps to prevent weed seeds from blowing in and helps to kill the weed seeds too. In the spring when the sun comes out the sun heats the soil and can destroy those seeds that landed in your garden last fall.

It’s a great way to reduce the weeds in your garden now for next year.

Tea Rose

Prune Your Roses

Your roses have given many great blooms all season long with the care you have given them. They are ready to go dormant for the winter months. We trim our roses back to about waist height in November to December. Then we trim them down to knee height come January or February.

Pruning them helps to keep them from getting too leggy and sprawling everywhere. When you prune them back for the winter they are more protected from breakage in ice storms or from falling branches.

If you live in a cold part of the world. You might want to mulch around the base of the plant and part of the way up to protect it from the bitter cold.

In our area, we don’t have to mulch because of winters, in general, are mild but we do have a harsh winter now and then like last winter.

Those are my basic winter garden prep tips to do before the snow flies. A little work now can really help with how much work will be needed in the spring.

What chores do you do each winter when putting your garden to bed?

Find more great winter garden tips from the other Tuesdays in the Garden gardeners below. Just click on the photo to be taken to their article to read.

Diane's photo   Patti's photo   Jamis photo   Michelle's Photo   Angie's Photo

More Garden Care Tips

How to Care for Roses

Rebuilding Raised Beds

Fall Garden Chores

Monday, September 18, 2017

Storage Ideas: How to Protect and Preserve Christmas Decorations

Storage Ideas: How to Protect and Preserve Christmas Decorations Storage Ideas How to Protect and Preserve Christmas Decorations

You may enjoy decorating your home for Christmas, but you may not enjoy taking down and putting away your decorations. Why? Because no matter how careful you are, some may get misplaced or damaged. If this has happened to you, you’re…

Easy Dinners Meal Plan - Frugal Family Home

Easy Dinners Meal Plan - Frugal Family Home

Inside: This week’s meal plan contains easy dinners for those busy nights when you know you won’t feel like cooking.

This week will be a busy week at our house.

When we have a busy week, I like to keep my meal plan easy to make. Planning an easy meal plan helps to keep us from eating out on those busy days. Which helps to save us money, since we all know it’s expensive to eat out.

Menu plan with recipe links

If you don’t regularly meal plan, I have a few things that will help. You can find a few tips on how to make a frugal menu planning.  Or this can help you simplify your menu planning process. Plus you can grab a free menu planner to print too.

This week we will be having easy dinners and lucky for me those are the meals my family loves. It’s great my family tends to love this simple to make meals. We will be having pizza which everyone loves at our house. I’ll be clearing out our crisper drawer by making stir fry chicken too.

We will be having pizza this week, which everyone loves at our house. I’ll be clearing out our crisper drawer by making stir fry chicken too. It’s a great way to use up those close to past prime veggies before they go bad.

I found we had ham hanging out in the freezer so it’s on our meal plan too for this week. As well as a couple skillet dishes we love. Because this time of year you never know when a hot day will hit.

What’s cooking at your house this week?

Here’s what’s on our Meal Plan for this Week,

Easy Dinners

Delicious Grilled Pizza | Frugal Family Home

Pizza and Salad

Stir Fry Chicken with Rice

Chicken Artichoke Casserole, Salad, and Fruit

Ham, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Eggs, Sausage, Hash Browns, and Toast

Southwest Chicken Skillet, Salad, and Fruit

Mushroom Chicken Noodles, Salad, and Fruit


Leftover most days

BLT Sandwiches, Fruit, and Salad

Chicken Strip Wraps, Cucumber Slices, and Fruit


I love how easy these cinnamon twist scones are to make. They are as easy to mix up as biscuits, but turn out looking so fancy. Great for breakfast or brunch when company is coming over. They are also a frugal breakfast recipe costing only $.10 each. My family gobbles these up every time I made them.

Toast with Eggs

Cinnamon Twist Scones, Eggs, and Sausage

Waffles, Eggs, and Sausage

Where to find more menu plan ideas for this week.

Do you need help planning your menu? Find my menu planning tips here with a free printable menu planner page and here for  my frugal menu planning tips.

Find more menu plan ideas at Org Junkie too.

Cauliflower Pasta Bake

Cauliflower Pasta Bake Cauliflower Pasta Bake

This is a mac and cheese for grown-ups. It is not the ooey-gooey comfort food of your childhood, but something a little more refined that just so happens to be cheesy and crispy.

For this baked pasta recipe, sweet, roasted cauliflower and onions are paired with salty Parmesan and buttery Gouda and topped with a crispy Ritz cracker crust. It can be served as a simple vegetarian dinner or as a side dish for roast chicken or grilled steak.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

Plum Walnut Skillet Cake Plum Walnut Skillet Cake

When was the last time you threw a cake together in 15 minutes? Well, this one delivers and it will make you so happy!

Juicy plums are excellent for eating out of hand, but baking with them is one of the finest pleasures of summer. Their flesh is sweet and their skins are tart, so they inspire use in tarts, crumbles, muffins, coffee cakes — or in this case, an easy walnut cake.

The walnuts also give moistness and earthy flavor to the cake, which is heavily scented with the zest of an entire lemon. The whole dough can be made in a few minutes in the food processor.

Bonus points: You don’t even have to peel the plums!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Pork Chops

Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Pork Chops Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Pork Chops

Sheet pan recipes are popular for a reason — the simplicity just can’t be beat!

In this iteration, I channel favorite fall flavors by pairing Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with honey-mustard glazed pork chops.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce

Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce Butternut Parmesan Pasta

One of the best things about fall is the abundance of pumpkins and hardy winter squash. Ever wonder why winter squash is called “winter” squash when it first makes its appearance in the fall?

Perhaps because if stored in a cool place, they’ll last several months, well into winter.

Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling the Cat Printables

Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling the Cat Printables

During one year of our homeschooling, we spent time going through a book of Aesop’s Fables. While there was the occasional story that my kids didn’t like as much, I was surprised at how much they enjoyed these fables that always came equipped with a moral at the end. Because of this, I’m sharing an Aesop Fables Worksheet packet – Belling the Cat printables.

Aesop's Fables Worksheet Set - Belling the Cat printables {free} for preschool and elementary students | Real Life at Home

This Belling the Cat printables and worksheets activity packet is perfect for a variety of elementary students, although some pages (but not all) within the packet are perfect for preschool children as well.

Of course, the great thing is that this Belling the Cat printables packet is a free download. So, you can use as many or as few pages from the packet as you would like without feeling guilty about not using a whole packet that you paid for. Bonus!

Contents of Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling the Cat Printables

This packet is nine pages. This includes a short terms of use page (you can read more terms of use here). The remaining eight pages of the packet are all printables for your children or students to use.

The Fable of the Belling of the Cat

Don’t have an Aesop’s Fables book? That’s okay, although I would recommend getting one because they’re fun reads. Because this story is in the public domain, we are able to reprint it for you. The first sheet is a decorative page with the Belling the Cat fable and the moral of the story.

Pages also included in this Aesop’s Fables Worksheet Packet:

Terms of Use for the Aesop’s Fables Worksheets Packet | Belling the Cat Printables

This packet is for personal and classroom use only. If you would like to share this packet with others, please direct them to this post so they may download it themselves.

These Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling the Cat Printables are available exclusively at Real Life at Home. They should not be uploaded or shared elsewhere. Other terms of use for printables from Real Life at Home can be found here.

Clip art in this packet has been licensed for our use.

Download the Belling the Cat Printables

Download Your Free Printable Here

Download the free Belling the Cat Printables Packet

Having any issues with clarity or missing items on the printables? It might be your web browser’s fault, but I have some tips that can help.

Other Printables and Activities You May Love:

My Little Book of Opposites

Teaching Young Readers How to Summarize (includes a free printable graphic organizer) | Real Life at Home

Preschool fun with the Big Red Dog: Printables Inspired by the Clifford the Big Red Dog books

Disclosure: This Belling the Cat Printables post contains affiliate links. They don’t change the price that you pay. When you use them to shop, however, we may receive a small compensation. Thanks!

The post Aesop Fables Worksheets Packet: Belling the Cat Printables appeared first on Real Life at Home.