Have you ever thought about making Halloween treats for your kids? After all, it’s a wonderful tradition and great bonding experience. The following Halloween treat ideas for kids are fun and easy to make, and even more yummy to eat!…
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
We will fly if airfare deals pop up, however, we typically opt to drive the whopping 24-hour route. We enjoy the scenery, the downtime in the car, the cost savings and having our own vehicle for the twelve days we are roaming around the Gulf Coast. The trip continues to get easier and easier, so today I thought I would share a few of our favorite tips for taking a family road trip.
I am sure it is no surprise that my number one tip is to make a list and check it twice. I have a ridiculously bad memory so I rely heavily on lists. And forgetting to do something or to bring something can definitely put a damper on the trip. I have offered a travel checklist in my Etsy shop for years, and recently updated the printable to a fillable and savable version. Being able to type in my list and save the contents to reuse is so convenient. And I really love that I can store it online and access it on my tablet/phone anytime.
The list is broken down into categories that keep track of all of the tasks we need to do to prep the house and plan for the trip (put our mail on hold, put together instructions for the housesitter, take the car in for an oil change, etc...) and also has packing categories. The categories include Clothing, Toiletries, Accessories, Technology, Carry-On Bag and two sections titled Miscellaneous, which I use for our snacks and meals and also our beach bag. I put together the list to include the entire family and just add a ( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 ) after the items that apply to everyone. And because I can save it and use it for different occasions, it works well for both flying and automobile trips.
A minimum of two of our trip days is spent in the car because we drive straight through each way. The better I can be about packing snacks and activities, the fewer stops we have to make and the more relaxed the trip is in general. I try to bring enough food to feed our family of five for dinner, breakfast, and snacks in-between. Anything that we don't eat during the drive just transfers into our beach bag and cooler when we arrive in Florida.
For our dry foods, I use a latched and lidded bin and fill it with snack size bags of popcorn, pretzels, seeds, crackers, granola bars and fruit pouches.
I found reusable food containers at the dollar store and they couldn't be more perfect for organizing the contents inside of our cooler. We start by portioning out veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, dips, and sandwiches/wraps.
We find that wraps keep well and are a great size to fit two per person inside of one container. We make them right before we leave; wrapping them up in deli paper and marking them with washi tape. #professionalsandwichartists
The cooler is always placed in the far back seat next to one of the boys and they are the ones responsible for grabbing the items and handing them out. In the past, it would become a slushy mess as the ice melted and the contents were rummaged. The small bins protect the contents so nothing becomes soggy or squooshed, and this time I decided to use freezer bags to divide up the ice. That one small idea was AMAZING and completely changed how we will forever pack our cooler.
All of our beverages are stored at the bottom of the cooler, as well as the smaller container of snacks. Once the lid was added, I stacked the remaining lidded food bins.
A ten-pound bag of ice fit nicely into 5 gallon-sized freezer bags. My ultimate goal was to keep the cooler cold but dry, and I figured that when the ice melted, it would be easy to change it out at a gas station by just removing and refilling the bags. So I added three of the bags on each side of the stack of bins...
And the final two bags on top.
This truly couldn't have worked out any better! We used this method throughout the entire trip and everything stayed wonderfully cold and there was never a mess inside of the cooler. In the past when one thing was pulled out of the cooler, the ice would cave in and things couldn't be put back easily and digging through the ice was hard on the hands. Who knew simple ice packs would be so exciting?! I seriously was giddy over this light bulb moment.
When we arrive back home after our trip, we wash out all of the bags and bins and keep them stored inside of the cooler until next time.
The majority of the items we eat are basic finger foods, but there are a few things that require utensils. Those were all placed inside of a lightweight bin along with wipes for hands and the car.
I had a leftover stack of party treat bags and they worked really great for corralling the utensils and straws.
Awhile back I realized that craft cases work beautifully for assembling a good first aid kit. I stocked ours with bandages, cleanser, cotton pads, a thermometer, pain reliever/fever reducers, vitamins, and medications. With three boys and a clumsy mom, this is always a helpful kit to keep on hand and was used a few times while we were away.
And we always have a bin filled with change and small bills in the center console of the car to prepare for any road tolls.
We each pack a small backpack or weekender bag for clothing and a second small tote for personal items and travel activities.
Each boy brings a grade appropriate workbook, a reading book and a journal, along with fine tip markers for writing and coloring. They also use a hard-sided pencil box to hold their headphones and charging cords for their tablets/phones. A few small travel games round out the contents of their drawstring backpacks.
Every bit of space matters, and we have been able to reduce the bulk of our sleeping linens by using standard-sized throw blankets and 14x20" pillow inserts. The smaller pillows work just as well as standard sizes, but take up about half of the space in each seat. And when we get back home, they are easily vacuum sealed and stored inside of a suitcase until our next adventure.
If you have younger kiddos, I have found these inexpensive trays from IKEA to be huge car trip sanity savers. They work great for meals and small activities, are easy to clean, and fit under most seats. Another road trip helper for littles are these free activity printables I created a few years ago.
|download road trip activity printables FREE here|
These are just a few of the ways we prep, make room in our car, drive long distances with content kids, organize our snacks and meals, and stay cozy along the way! I wish I could say that our entire trip went off without a hitch, but it just wouldn't be a Jones family vacation without a few hiccups, adventures and stories to tell. All the organizing in the world doesn't prevent you from unknowingly filling up the car with bad gas (and then breaking down for a full day because of it), but just imagine the jokes a car full of boys made out of that experience... Ha!
Are you having a Halloween party? If so, consider the types of foods and drinks you’ll serve. Keep in mind that some of your guests may be vegan or have food allergies, so provide foods that everyone can enjoy. Here…
If you love decorating for Halloween, you probably look forward to finding new Halloween decorations to incorporate with old favorites. After all, the holiday only comes once a year. In other words: you should enjoy it as much as you…
This Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake is so good. Crazy good. I love this Coca Cola Cake recipe, and I think you and your family will too!
Not only is this cake delicious, but there are a couple of other reasons why I love making it. First, it’s made in a jelly roll pan or a cookie sheet that has sides (on all sides). As you can imagine, this means that it makes a lot of cake. This makes it perfect when you need to feed a lot of people – whether for a holiday gather, a potluck, or even individually wrapped pieces for a bake sale. Bonus!
Another reason that I think this Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake is the tops is because it gets better a day or two after you bake it. Sure, you can eat it right away, but it will become even more moist the next day. Since I’m often making it for gatherings, it’s so nice to have something that can be made ahead of time.
We also love making this cake, cutting it up, wrapping the individual pieces, and then freezing them to thaw just a few at a time.Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake Recipe
Want a printable version of this recipe? I’ll share the recipe and directions here, but if you prefer to grab a printable version, just scroll down to the very end of the post (after suggested other posts you might enjoy) where you will see the recipe appear again and you can click on the print button in that box.
Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake Ingredients
Ingredients for Cake:
- 1 cup Coca Cola
- 1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
- 1 stick butter (= 1/2 cup of butter)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar (white)
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (careful – this is not added in with the other dry ingredients)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for Frosting:
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons cream, milk, or buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 3/4 cups (3.75 cups) confectioners (powdered) sugar
Instructions for Making the Cake:
1. In a sauce pan, bring oil, butter and cocoa powder to a boil.
2. Move to a mixing bowl after items in step one have come to a boil.
3. Mix the sugar, flour, and salt. Pour them into the mixture that you just put in the bowl. Beat well.
4. Add in Coca Cola. Blend well.
5. Add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Beat well.
6. Pour into a greased and floured sheet cake pan. (I use an approximately 15-inch cookie sheet that has one inch sides. A jelly roll pan is also a great option.)
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes. Plan to frosting the cake shortly after taking the cake out of the oven.
Instructions for Making the Frosting:
Important: You should start making the frosting a few minutes before the cake comes out of the oven or just after taking it out of the oven, as you will pour the frosting on the cake when it is still hot/warm.
1. In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, and milk. Heat until butter melts.
2. Beat in the remaining ingredients, and pour/spread on the hot cake.
3. All cake to cool before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. (We all prefer to eat the cake cold/cool.)
Enjoy!Other Recipes You May Love:
- 1 cup Coca Cola
- ½ cup oil
- 1 stick butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar (white)
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (careful - this is not added in with the other dry ingredients)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons cream, milk, or buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ - 1 cup pecans, chopped (optional - I don't use them)
- 3¾ cups (3.75 cups) confectioners (powdered) sugar
- In a sauce pan, bring oil, butter and cocoa powder to a boil.
- Move to a mixing bowl after items in step one have come to a boil.
- Mix the sugar, flour, and salt. Pour them into the mixture that you just put in the bowl. Beat well.
- Add in Coca Cola. Blend well.
- Add eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla. Beat well.
- Pour into a greased and floured sheet cake pan. (I used a 15-inch cookie sheet that had one inch sides. A jelly roll pan is also a great option.)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Plan to frosting the cake shortly after taking the cake out of the oven.
- Very shortly before the cake is done or immediately after taking it out of the oven, start making the cake's froting.
- In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, and milk. Heat until butter melts.
- Beat in the remaining ingredients, and pour/spread on the hot cake.
- Cool cake before cutting.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. They don’t change how much you pay. However, when you shop through them, we may receive a small compensation. Thank you!
This post was originally published on February 2, 2010. It was most recently updated in August 2017.
The post Rich and Delicious Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake Recipe appeared first on Real Life at Home.http://ift.tt/2w2m3Mj
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
A few fall garden chores to do to wrap up your garden and get ready for winter that is ahead.
I know when fall rolls around you can get garden fatigue. With all the planting, watering, harvesting, canning, and freezing that goes on during the summer months you might be ready for a gardening break.
Or if you love gardening you might be ready to revamp your garden for the fall growing season. Either way, there’s a few fall gardening chores you should really do before putting your garden to bed.
I’ve broken up the tips for vegetable gardens and flower gardens to make it easier to access the garden information you are looking for.
Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for more fall gardening tips from the other Tuesdays in the Garden gardeners before you leave.
Remove any Dead or Dying Plants
As the end of summer comes and fall begins there is bound to be a few dead or dying plants in the garden. They have come to the end of their life and are wilting away.
Instead of letting them lay around in the garden to get mushy and moldy remove them to free up room to plant more cool weather crops or just to clean up the garden space.
Every little bit you do now can save you time and energy in the spring when you are ready to plant for the new season.
Pick Up Fallen Fruit
If you have fallen fruit around your fruit trees be sure to pick it up and compost it. Letting it lay around can help promote pests to stick around until next season. No one wants them sticking around.
Weed the Garden Bed
Even though I cover my beds I usually have a stray weed here and there to remove from the garden. I like to weed at the end of the season to get rid of those pesky weeds. Because for every weed you leave you can end up with much more.
Plant your Fall Crops if You’ll Be Growing a Fall Garden
If you are not quite ready to give up gardening for the year start to plan and plant your fall garden. Cool weather crops that mature in short amounts of time are great to plant in the fall for a second season harvest.
Cover Your Garden Beds
I’ve been covering my garden beds each year with black plastic to block weeds and kill weed seeds. I have to say this technique I learned from my friend Jami has really paid off.
The weeds weren’t gone instantly but in the last two years of gardening in my raised bed, I’ve only spend about 1 hour each garden seasoning weeding.
Compare that to weekly weeding of the past and I’m saving all kinds of time and energy not having to weed.
If you are ready to put your garden bed to bed for the winter, cover them with a tarp or plastic to help kill the weed and weed seeds. An enjoy less weeding come next garden season.
In the flower garden and the lawn fall is a great time to get ready for spring and to do some general clean up before the snow flies. Doing these chores now can help to make your garden look great come spring.
Keep your flowers blooming longer by keeping up with deadheading the plants as well as fertilizing them to keep them growing strong.
We regularly deadhead our roses to keep them blooming all season long. But this can be done with other flowers too. I’m just not as good about keeping up with deadheading our other flowers.
Be sure to collect any seeds that have formed on annuals so you can replant them again in the spring.
Plant Spring Bulbs
Now is the time to pick out and plant spring bulbs. Start shopping for the bulbs you want to add to your garden and plant them before winter sets in. The beautiful plants will just emerge in the spring.
I love perennials. They come back year after year but as they grow and expand, you might need to divide them. After dividing them find a new home in the garden or bless your neighbor with a new plant for their garden. If you have hostas to divide I have a tutorial for you.
Weed Those Beds
For every weed left behind you could end up with hundreds of seeds it produces. It better to get them cleared out so you don’t have all those weed seeds germinating in the spring.
✳︎ At the end of the season cut the lawn short and fertilize before winter sets in. It will help to feed your lawn for the fall and help it make it through the winter.
✳︎ If you have bare spots or want the lawn to fill in, overseed with a cool weather grass seed. Get it in early so it will have time to germinate and set good roots.
✳︎ Weed the lawn. I know weeds can get out of hand in the lawn but do your best with the hand weeding. You can also use a product like Weed and Feed to help feed your lawn while getting rid of weeds too.
Those are my fall garden chores to do before the winter. But don’t leave yet keep on going and see what the Tuesdays in the Garden bloggers have to offer for their fall garden ideas.
To read all the great gardening tips and ideas for fall just click on the photo below. It will take you right to the article.
Pin it for Later…
Monday, August 21, 2017
Is there anything more refreshing than ice cold cucumber on a hot day?
This Chinese-style cucumber salad with bits of shredded chicken (or tofu!) takes almost no effort to prepare and makes a fantastic light summer meal.http://ift.tt/2v7pf88
Saturday, August 19, 2017
For this budget grocery haul, I made a two store trip to Fred Meyer and Safeway.
I’m loving all these great beef deals I’ve been getting at Safeway lately. This trip I picked up one package of ground beef at just $2.49 per pound.
I was hoping to pick up $.99 grapes but they were sold out by the time I made it to the store. I was sad to miss such a great deal, but there is bound to be another good deal on grapes soon.
I also found a great deal on eggs at $.88 for one dozen and I had a Checkout 51 coupon to use too. As well as a good deal on cookies at $1.67 each plus I used a Checkout 51 coupon to save even more.
At Fred Meyer I picked up a couple of boxes of granola bars that were on sale. I also shopped for a few other items we needed some at great prices others not so good.
See the full trip in the video.Best Buys for this Budget Grocery Haul
Eggs $.88 dozen, used Checkout 51 coupon for $.45 off, Final Price $.43
Ground Beef $2.49/lb
Deli Fresh Lunchmeat $3.49, used $1/1 e-coupon, Final Price $2.49 each
Fig Newtons $1.67 each, used $1/2 Checkout 51 coupon, Final Price $1.17 each
My total spending for this budget grocery haul was $41.90. I spent $25.83 at Fred Meyer and saved an additional $.25 with the Ibotta app. At Safeway I spent $16.07 and saved an additional $1.45 with the Checkout 51 app.
That’s it for this trip. What deals did you find while shopping this week?
Sheet pan pizzas are seriously the only way I ever make pizza in my house anymore. I used to futz with a heavy baking stone, but I hardly ever take it out anymore!
Rolled out and stretched onto a sheet pan, a 1-pound ball of dough makes the perfect thin crust pizza.
Here’s a recent favorite: a super simple white pizza topped with garlicky baby spinach, marinated artichoke hearts from a jar, and lots of mozzarella cheese.http://ift.tt/2uSLuSS
Friday, August 18, 2017
I’m excited about a new series that I’ll be sharing over the next year that even though August is half way done, I couldn’t wait to just share in September instead. Each month, I’ll be sharing a free printable saints coloring book!
Even though I got a late start on it for August (because of back to school time, which included two of my kids getting learners permits and one getting a job!), I plan to have the September one ready soon. My plan is to get it out just before September starts. In fact, I then hope that I’ll be able to also offer you the option to purchase a bundle for the whole year at that point, in case you don’t want to wait for one each month.
If you want to make sure that you don’t miss when the newest versions come out (as well as lots of other great free printables, including some that are exclusive for subscribers), you might want to subscribe to the Real Life at Home weekly newsletter:
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The August Saints Coloring Book Printable has a cover that can be colored and then includes six coloring pages (they are half sheets of paper, so two fit on each standard 8.5×11 piece of paper) of saints who have feast days in August, with each page including a border that can be colored in and the saint’s name and feast day.Saints included in the August coloring book:
- Saint Rose of Lima
- Saint Maximilian Kolbe
- Saint Augustine
- Saint Monica
- Saint Clare
- Saint Dominic
You have a few options for putting together your saints coloring book. I don’t know about you, but I love having options. I declared myself our family’s Ideas and Options Generator. They decided it’s like my job title.
So, here are the options that I have for you on this coloring book:
1. Print this on two pages using duplex printing
If your printer allows for duplex printing (or you are cool with how to manually do this with your printer – it’s different on all of them, so I can’t really help there), you can print the first page of the book on one side of the paper and the second page of the book on the other side of the paper. Then, do the same with one piece of paper and the third and four page of the book.
Once I had my two double-sided pages ready, I just folded them in half and made them into a book. I used my long reach stapler to fasten them together in the middle. Easy peasy.
Or, you can always just fold them together and then use a regular stapler to staple the fold together. So many options.
2. Print the pages single-sided and cut them apart
If you don’t want to mess with double-sided copying or you just don’t want the coloring pages to be back-to-back, you can print out the four pages of the printable and cut them in half to get your eight page coloring book. Then, just assemble in the order of your choosing and staple them together.
3. Don’t make them in to a book at all
Follow the second suggestion up until that stapling part. This is good if you only want to give kids one half-page at a time.
This download is free for personal, classroom, co-op, or church use. Real Life at Home copyright information must remain on the pages Although church use is allowed, It may not be put into church bulletins or newsletters.
This set cannot be sold, published, or hosted on other websites. (Example: an individual or church may not upload the file onto their website for others to download there.) If you want to pass along the printable though, please feel free to share a link to this post (not directly to the printable) with others.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. They don’t change the price you pay. However, when you shop through them, we may receive a small compensation. Thanks!
Many of our rooms have textured walls and textured ceilings. Womp womp. I am over them. Our son's bathroom is basically an 8 ft x 8 ft box with a notch for plumbing and storage. It was the ideal candidate for a ceiling treatment that would make a wow factor, be easy on the budget, and wouldn't take up multiple days and weekends that we don't have.
We did a small shiplap treatment in our laundry room some time ago and learned a few things from that installation that swayed us to do things a little differently here.
S T E P O N E
Measure! We measured the ceiling lines and set off to our local home improvement store to source material.
S T E P T W O
Consider your options. There are quite a few options when it comes to ceiling plank treatments. You can do individual tongue and groove boards, standard wood boards, or a sheet of material that you cut down on your own. We opted for the final option because of cost. We looked at individual boards in a variety of sizes and the cost was about 3-4 times as much, and the boards were also quite thick. Cutting our own brought the cost down, and also offered us the flexibility of determining the plank width. The one downside to cutting your own boards is ensuring that your lines are nice and straight over a long distance.
We purchased two sheets of 4 ft x 8 ft x 1/4 in smooth plywood.
S T E P T H R E E
Source wall moulding. I knew that capping our edges around the room would be that final touch to the project to really take it up a notch.
We purchased four 1 in x 2 in x 8 ft primed trim boards.
S T E P F O U R
Gather materials. We found the following tools to be helpful with this project:
- Tape Measure
- Saw Horses
- Straight Edge
- Circular Saw
- Sanding Blocks
- Mini Rollers
- Primer and Paint
- Chalk Line
- Caulk Gun for Construction Adhesive and White Paintable Caulk
- Miter Saw
- Brad Nailer
S T E P F I V E
Cut the planks!
Once again, we used a thin, sanded plywood which cuts nicely and is easy to prime and paint. Last time we experienced a small amount of chipping, but this time we were working with a newer saw blade which we figured would help clean up the cuts. We decided we wanted our planks 6" wide which was a total of 16 planks across the ceiling. Instead of attempting to cut 16 boards exactly the same and perfectly straight, we clamped together four boards and ran the saw less.
This worked out beautifully! We clamped our straight edge on each end of the boards and ran our circular saw down the entire 8 ft length with ease. The good blade ensured very little fraying occurred.
S T E P S I X
We used a sanding block to sand down all of the board tops and edges prior to painting.
S T E P S E V E N
Prime and paint.
Last time we installed the boards first and painted second. It wasn't ideal and working to keep paint out of all of the grooves was also pretty time-consuming. This time I wanted to try painting everything first and installing the boards second. We waited until there was zero rain in the forecast, and spread out all sixteen boards on saw horses and our outdoor tables. We rolled on a coat of primer, and then two coats of white paint and primer semi-gloss bathroom paint. A quality microfiber roller will help with achieving good, smooth coverage. We used a brush on all of the edges for the primer to be sure everything was nice and sealed and then were able to speed up the process by using a roller on the edges for both coats of the paint.
S T E P E I G H T
Locate and mark ceiling joists.
We wanted the planks to be as secure as possible so we determined the location of the ceiling joists and marked them accordingly by snapping a chalk line.
S T E P N I N E
Measure and cut!
We measured for each board just in case our walls weren't perfectly square. Then cut them to length with our miter saw.
S T E P T E N
Glue and Nail
To be sure there was no sagging, we added a few rows of construction adhesive to the backside of the board prior to affixing it to the ceiling.
We used tile spacers along the edge of the board, knocked it into place and nailed along the chalk line, as well as a few areas between.
Repeat all the way across the ceiling.
S T E P E L E V E N
Measure, cut and install trim pieces.
For this project, I selected a very clean trim board vs. a typical crown moulding. We did basic 45-degree miters around the entire perimeter of the room.
S T E P T W E L V E
Caulk and touch up paint.
With all of the nailing and installation, the boards became dinged up in a few spots and of course, we had fresh nail holes that needed to be caulked. Once the caulk dried, I used a brush to touch up paint the boards.
That's it! The wood cost us $54 dollars and the paint and primer quarts were another $30. We had everything else on hand to complete the project, so for under $85 we created quite the statement in this itty bitty space.
This room still has a long way to go. We decided we would like to remove the fiberglass shower and install floor to ceiling tile and replace the shower fixtures. The walls have been painted Sherwin William's Nimbus and I absolutely love the warm greige color and how it pairs with the cool navy already in the space. The shower curtain is amazing and it is from here.
We have also removed the old built-in cabinets on the opposite wall from the sink and have to sheetrock that in and add some floating shelves.
Another small upgrade we made was swapping out his previous bathroom fan with a Bluetooth version. I found a 70 cfm option at Home Depot for under $100, but it doesn't look like they offer it online (they do have this one available). Our son thought the new planked ceiling was great, but this?! A fan that allows him to play his favorite music while he showers? Why didn't we do this ages ago? He loves to sing and this made showering and brushing teeth and all of those other daily "chores" so much more fun for him!
We are really excited to see how the rest of this project pulls together (especially with art and accessories). As a reader mentioned in the last update, it will be hard to top our favorite, mega-sweet guest bathroom. But we will certainly try!
Check out our son's most recent bedroom update here and the DIY wood framed mirror here.