Are You Ready for Some Football? {a fun recipe}

Chocolate Covered Football Potato ChipsWe live in the South where people take college football weekends seriously!

Almost as important as the game itself, the food we make and serve during these tailgating and football watching weekends. I just love this fun recipe for chocolate covered potato chips. If my husband is reading this blog post I must ask him to look away now … you see he does not share in my love of sweet and salty mixed together. He can not watch me at Chick Fil A when I dip a waffle fry in my vanilla milkshake. But, if you are a lover of salty and sweet, like me, these Chocolate Covered Football Potato Chips are the perfect fun item for your football party.

The best part is this recipe requires just three items – take a look at the ingredients and recipe below:

Football Chips Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • Stackable Potato Chips (I prefer Pringles)
  • Wilton Chocolate Melts
  • Wilton White Icing Tube

DIRECTIONS
1.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
2.  Microwave 1/2 cup of the chocolate melts for 30 seconds. Stir until melted.
3.  Dip the chips into the melted chocolate and coat evenly. Set on the wax paper to harden.
4.  Once the chocolate hardens and is “set”, pipe the football laces on each football chip with the Wilton white icing. Let dry for at least 10 minutes.
5.   ENJOY!
Football Chips Icing
Could this be any easier? I like to pick up the chocolate melts and tube of icing at Michael’s (with a coupon) but, most grocery stores carry the Wilton items on their baking aisle.
What are some of your favorite tailgating recipes for football season?

25 Easy Crock Pot Meal Ideas

25 Easy Crock Pot MealsIt’s no secret that life gets busy and sometimes cooking dinner isn’t always convenient – with three kids actively involved in a pre-professional classical ballet company, a musical theater company, and a travel baseball team, sit down dinners are few and far between. It’s just our season of life. If you have crazy busy weeks like our family, consider making some slow cooker meals in your crock pot to save time and energy!

These crock pot meal ideas are simple to make and delicious! They can also double as leftovers for lunches the next day (a bonus when you homeschool and lunch is normally at home) and feed the family for cheap.

There is definitely something for everyone on this list below … test out and find some go to crock pot meals for your family.

1. Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan
2. Chicken Baja Soup
3. Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup
4. Asian Spice Slow Cooker Wings
5. Easy Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
6. Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup
7. Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
8. Orange Slow Cooker Chicken
9. Easy Crock Pot Chili
10. Chicken Noodle Soup
11. Salsa Verde Pork Tostadas
12. Cheesy Ranch Chicken Pasta
13. Slow Cooker Boneless BBQ Pork Ribs
14. Creamy Salsa Verde Chicken
15. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
16. Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
17. Butter Chicken Sliders
18. Broccoli Cheese Soup
19. Jalapeno Corn Chowder
20. Crock Pot Mediterranean Chicken
21. Slow Cooker Taco Meat
22. Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
23. Salsa Chicken
24. Sweet Potato Pulled Pork Tacos
25. Crock Pot Ribs

Which ones are your favorite? Do you have any ideas for quick meals for families on the go? I would love to hear them in your comments below.

You Blink and Summer is Gone …

Like everything these days it seems like I blink and our summer is over … we are back to school, as of yesterday. Fun times I tell you. No, really, it is good to get back into a routine.

So, looking back … here is some of our summer fun.

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We enjoyed lots of time at the pool …

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when we weren’t playing baseball or …

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attending summer dance intensives.

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We hosted an awesome foreign exchange student from France. His name was Florian and the kids had an absolute blast with him (as did many of their friends).

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Ava Mae competed at KAR’s National Title Competition in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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Bonus … we stayed on the beach and Lexi got to bring along one of her best friends who she rarely gets to spend time with anymore.

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When we got back from Nationals, Ava Mae found out she was going on pointe! (with one of her best friends)

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We lost two members of our furry family … (rest in peace Smokin and Binxee – you are greatly missed) and we gained two new kittens (Snowflake and Binxee II).

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We celebrated (a lot) … my husband turned Fifty …

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My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by a weekend away at a wonderful B&B in the North Carolina mountains. (Thanks to my parents for watching our kids!) Of course our kids had just as much fun hanging out with their grandparents …

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Just one of the great places they took them over the weekend.

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And, Devin turned 14 years old!

Wow … looking back we had a jam packed full of experiences summer! Excited now for what the new school year ahead holds!!

Thoughts On Planning Your Homeschool Year

Planning Your Homeschool YearAnd so it begins again, time to plan our 2015 – 2016 homeschool year. One of my very best friends, who also homeschools, called me the other day and asked if I had a plan. I LOVE her to death and think everyone needs a homeschool friend like her who you can get real with – anyway, we both agreed not to have the “planning” conversation again until at least the beginning of August. I told her, at the time, I was planning on Unschooling or taking a “Gap” Year – can one even do that with an 8th, 7th, and 5th grader? Just kidding … I have not gone completely off the deep end but, sometimes the thought of planning another school year can get me a little crazy. I have gleaned so much knowledge in my last 9 years of doing this … So, if you are just starting out as a homeschooler or dreading planning out your own year – please read on.

First, I will tell you we have done it all … or, at least it feels like we have. Everything from “out-of-the-box” traditional Christian curriculum, like Abeka, all the way to a Charlotte Mason eclectic mix. We have done Classical Conversations and outside classes at a local hybrid school.

What have I learned … they are all great! Each one of the programs/curriculum’s we have participated in were amazing. Now, don’t get me wrong none of them were perfect and you can always find something you wish might work better or be taught differently.

So, as you begin to plan your year and as I plan mine keep this mind – there really are not too many “wrong” choices out there. Do not compare your children and your homeschool to what everyone else is doing around you. Now, that’s not to say that you don’t ask for some suggestions or recommendations but, remember, everyone has an opinion and you must decide for yourself what will work.

We have the blessing of being a part of a large homeschool group (we have for many years). If I surveyed those families – out of 100, I would probably find 85 of them doing something different. Even those families who might be in an on-campus program one or two days a week, their days at home probably look different then their friends. Do what works for you!

Second, those cute “homeschool rooms” may be great when your kids are really little (think early elementary) but, trying to replicate a school room is really not necessary. Remember, you homeschool for a reason. If you wanted your child in a traditional public school classroom they would be there. I drove myself crazy setting up our rooms just perfectly for many years. Then my kids grew older and I found 1/4 way into our homeschool year everyone was homeschooling around the house. While some prefer the quite of their bedroom others prefer to stretch on our wood floor or a gymnastics mat as they do math or read. We still like to come together to do history and science – that is now around our dining room table or kitchen table.

I found that it is more important for the kids’ work to be portable so they each have a large wicker basket and a plastic basket – both fit into a large IKEA shelving unit. Small whiteboards, an individual pencil box, and a clipboard are necessities. All these items can easily be gathered up and taken with us outside or to a ballet/baseball private lesson during the school day.

Third, do not attempt to keep up with your friend who has the perfect homeschool room, the perfect curriculum which must equate to perfect children! Trust me when I say “no homeschool is perfect” – some are just better at faking it. I am ashamed to say I am probably one of those. Early on I would even coach my children exactly what to say if someone asked how our homeschooling was going. No more … we have struggles, my kids have strengths and weaknesses, just like any student.

Love on your children, enjoy your time together (it goes by way too fast), when things get really hard or your having a bad day – get up and get out of the house. Go for a hike, grab a snack at the donut shop, remember the reason you homeschool! We homeschool for flexibility and the ability for our children to learn with curriculum tailored to their own uniqueness.

I look back at how my mom homeschooled my three youngest siblings … my Mom and my Dad (a public school teacher – gasp!) homeschooled before homeschooling was the “in” thing to do. There were very few “out-of-the-box” curriculum’s to pick from and no big homeschool convention to attend. My three youngest siblings are awesome individuals … one of them went on to become a professional ballerina, the other is now in Sommelier school, and the third is helping run a professional football franchise. They were allowed at young ages to follow their unique path!

As we all head down the planning path for the coming school year let’s all remind each other what is important, why we homeschool, and the need to keep it simple! Happy Planning!

Have you started to plan for the new school year? Is your year already planned? What is on the horizon?

Perfect Lashes {a product review}

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Having eyes that pop on stage for a dancer is really important … with a move this last year into a pre-professional classical ballet company we had to learn some new tips and techniques for stage makeup. While false eyelashes are the go to look of choice, there are some times when you just want to use something a little bit easier to apply.

Mia Adora 3 D Lashes

We were thrilled to be selected to review a great product and a wonderful substitute for false eyelashes – Best 3D Fiber Lash Mascara by Mia Adora. In all honesty I had never heard of “fiber lashes” before receiving the product but, my dancers had and they were super excited to give them a try! One huge tip if you are just starting out – make sure to read through the booklet that Mia Adora will send you – it has lots of great application tips that are important. My girls had watched a few YouTube videos also, which I think helped us to have a great first test run with the lashes.

Ava Mae Lashes

Ava Mae’s Demo of the Lashes – she used it on just one eye to show the difference.

Some of the benefits of using Mia Adora’s 3D Fiber Lashes –

  • High Quality, Natural, and Non-Toxic
  • Hypoallergenic Ingredients
  • Smudge Resistant
  • Instantly Longer and Thicker Lashes – magnify your own natural lashes up to 300%
  • Strengthen and Condition your natural lashes

Mia Adora 3D Lashes
The lashes can be purchased directly from Mia Adora. The 3D Fiber Lash Kit Comes beautifully packaged with – 1) Tube of Black Magnifying Gel

2) Black 3D Fiber lashes to extend and thicken your eyelashes

3) Protective Carrying Case made with Recyclable material

4) Free Bonus Eyelash Guide

{Disclosure: Mia Adora 3D Fiber Lashes were provided by Mia Adora for my review, as part of a partnership with Tomoson. I was not compensated for this post, and as always, all opinions are my own.}

 

Happy 4th of July and my Smores Dip Recipe

red white blue flag and flowers

Happy 4th of July … hope you have some super fun plans to celebrate this great holiday weekend.

We are enjoying fireworks tonight in our neighborhood and a block party tomorrow night on our street. Our french foreign exchange student is looking forward to taking part in the activities.

Tonight we will enjoy an All American Dinner of Fried Chicken and Homemade Mac n Cheese (recipe to follow). Tomorrow night it is hot dogs and we will be bringing a side dish to share at the street party. One of our new favorite recipes for summer is Smores Dip! It is so super simple and it saves us from being eaten alive outside at night during the summer while roasting marshmallows.

All you need is two ingredients (semi-sweet chocolate chips and mini marshmallows), some graham crackers for dipping and you are set.

Smores Dip

Smores Dip

– Preheat your oven to 450 Degrees.

– Butter a large non-stick frying pan or cast iron skillet.

– Place a bag of chocolate chips in the bottom.

– Cover the chocolate chips with mini-marshmallows.

– Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.

– Pull the pan out once the marshmallows are toasted to a perfect shade of brown.

Smores Dip CloseUpRemember, before scooping out a huge helping, to let it cool for a few minutes.

Have a safe 4th of July!

Summer Fun In and Around Atlanta

Summer Fun In and Around AtlantaYour homeschool is on summer break and temperatures are rising! Once again, it’s time to grab our sunscreen throw on our sunglasses and head out for some fun family bonding experiences in and around the ATL! Sure you could just head to your pool but, why not change it up a bit –

Here’s a list of 10 fantastic summer activities (some are even FREE) to get your family off to a good start this summer, in Atlanta!

  1. CREATE ATL Family Fun – This is a new family-oriented program courtesy of The Woodruff Arts Centre in conjunction with the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art, which will feature various activities including family festivals, art-making activities, interactive musical story times, composers-in-training sessions, instrument making, drop-in acting classes and more. It happens every Sunday at 1 p.m., from June through August. FREE admission
  2. Marietta Fire Museum – Have some fun with history at this fabulous 2-story museum in Marietta which celebrates the work that the firefighters of Marietta have done for almost 200 years!  You’ll see fire trucks and the other awesome firefighting displays that will keep your younger ones intrigued. Tours are conducted by active duty fire fighters. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is FREE.
  3. Autrey Mill – Do your kids need a break from technology? Why not let them step back in time with a tour of the village at Autrey Mill, located in Johns Creek. The village provides an understanding of the rural heritage of this area from the 1800’s – 1900’s. It is a serene location with 2 miles of nature trails that feature a walk through a hardwood forest, a winding creek, pavilions, historic buildings, and animal exhibits among other things. Grounds are open every day from 8am – dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm. Admission is FREE.
  4. World of Coca-Cola – At the World of Coca-Cola you can experience the fascinating story of the world’s best-known beverage brand. You’ll also watch a 4D movie and taste flavors from all over the world (great place to quench your thirst on a hot day). To get a sneak peek of the fun that awaits, use the new interactive World of Coke app on your phone
  5. Tallulah Gorge Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike –For a fun moonlit nature walk – head to the North Georgia Mountains and enjoy a 1 mile hike that takes you down the stairs across, the suspension bridge and on the rim of the gorge under the full moon. Wednesday, July 1st from 8:30pm – 10:30pm is the next full moon hike.
  6. Folk Art Garden – This is a beautiful artistic haven filled with gorgeous flowers and greenery and Folk Art consisting of more than 50 diminutive buildings designed to imitate their larger counterparts crafted from tiny stones, pebbles, shells and other materials. There is no charge to tour the gardens, located in Calhoun.
  7. Visit a Roller Skating Rink – Pick a skating rink close by and take the family for a spin around the rink. And, if you really want to cool down – find an ice skating rink. I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot day. If you’re not as bold, you can always enjoy watching on the sidelines – bring a book, catch up on some work, or just snap pics of the fun your kids are having.
  8. Georgia Aquarium -Mingle with some cute penguins, dolphins or sea otters in one of the world’s most magical aquariums in North America!
  9. UPick Blueberry Farm – Don’t miss out on the short blueberry picking season in Georgia! Find a farm, such as Berry Patch Farms, and take the kids to pick fresh blueberries. Just think of all the fun recipes you can make on one of those rainy days at home – blueberry muffins, pancakes, smoothies. Don’t forget your sunscreen and mosquito spray when you head out to pick. Also, always call ahead to the farms as the picking season changes quickly.
  10. Tubing Down the Chattahoochee – on one of the hottest days of the year, you can still have fun outside and stay cool. Just head to Helen, Georgia and tube down the cold Chattahoochee river. You can even bring your dog! Prices start at just $4 – bring a cooler and picnic afterward along the river, there are plenty of picnic tables.

So, before you ask the old age question “what is there to do in Atlanta, with the kids, during the summer?” Get started on some of the fun activities on this little bucket list. Happy summer!

What are some of your favorite things to do in and around Atlanta during the summer?