Caramel Apple Pops

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by Laura

Tradition in our family for the first day of Fall, is making Caramel Apples.  

We decided to try something a little different this year and it was a HIT.  

First I needed to gather my supplies.  Normally I make caramel from scratch, but I didn’t have time this year. I wasn’t super excited about unwrapping 100 caramels, but when I got to the caramels in the grocery store Kraft became my best friend.  

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YOU GUYS.  They have these caramel bits that you just add a little water to and microwave for 2 minutes.  So much better for mama and the dishwasher, (also mama).  I found some popsicle sticks and parchment paper for easy apple retrieval. As for toppings, I went a little crazy this year as you can CLEARLY see here:

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Our apples were a little small, but the treat is a sugar fest so small is ok for me.  I started out by slicing off the ends which we cut in half for bite sized caramel dunkers, and then I was able to get three slices/apple of workable material.  I removed the seeds from the middle and extra stem/base but if you have one of those cylinder alligator teeth apple corer things this would be what you would want to use.  To insert the popsicle stick I started a slit with a knife and then the popsicle stick slid right in.    

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We invited some friends over for Caramel Apple night and my friend wrote everyone’s name on their popsicle stick-totally helpful after they were all decorated, and then we dunked the apple into the caramel.  

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Laid it on the parchment.  And went to town with toppings.  

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The fridge firmed up the caramel in about 10 minutes and we were ready to taste test!  

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Everyone agreed these were much easier to make and eat than the traditional apples.  Hope you guys are ready for fall!  

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Back to School: A Tribute to Teachers

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by Angela

We couldn’t end our Back To School Series this month without a special spotlight on one of the most important part of the classroom. The Teacher 🙂 So if you are a public school teacher or a private school teacher or a charter school teacher, tutor, teachers aide, part time art teacher, homeschool teacher by day and Mom by night…etc You get the idea. You, who are helping a child learn you,  are special.  And I wonder sometimes if you just don’t get enough thank yous.

Thank you for your patience with a child who is teary and anxious on the first few days of school!

Thank you for your persistence to explain the math problem one more time.

Thank you for the smile and gentle reminder to the little guy who has a hard time sitting still.

I remember most of my teachers. Some just stand out in my memory because they were kind. I remember the teacher who read us books everyday after we came in from lunch recess. I remember my 2nd grade teacher who had an extra hard name to get right so their Last Name became one of our spelling words. Some teachers I remember because they challenged me and I learned and was stretched and was inspired. I am sure that I didn’t thank my teachers enough.

Thank you teachers, for your preparation and time you have spent over the summer taking classes and learning yourself- even during your vacation time.

Thank you teachers, for raising a bar just a little higher for your students to reach for.

Thank you teachers, for the extra time you put into the school day before and after the students go home.

As a parent, my kids teachers have blessed our family. This first grade teacher singing, “Happy Trails to You” every day as the students left her room. Greetings of big hugs and smiles. A homeschool co- op teacher passing on a passion for government and civics. Coaches and now a days professors who believe in and come along side cheering on efforts. Special I tell you, and I am not sure you always hear it!

Thank you, for being patient with students with learning disabilities.

Thank you, for giving your time to students when you also have children of your own at home.

Thank you, for sometimes making learning hard things fun!

I hope as this new school year is fresh and goals are set, that you are encouraged, teacher friends. I hope that when you deal with kids who might not respect you or parents who might complain that you remember the light bulb of understanding that went off in one of your students head that day.  I hope that through administrations changes and district standards that are new that you are gracious with your self! I hope you know you have a lot to offer students. I hope you know that you are special. I am not sure you hear that enough 🙂

Tell a teacher thank you today!

Rachel and Mrs. Johnson

Mrs. Johnson hugs were the best!

 

 

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Back to School: Shopping!

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by Laura

One of my favorite things about fall is the clothes shopping for the next few seasons.  So I thought I’d recycle an old post from our Capsule Wardrobe series and spruce it up for those awesome fall sales!

In short, a capsule wardrobe is a closet that has a limited number of clothes that work well together to save time and money.  The little bit of planning goes a LONG way.  You guys are going to love the printable at the end of this post! 

To plan kids capsule wardrobes it’s different from adults.  

Kids wear warm weather clothes for six months, and cool weather clothes for six months and then they grow out of them.  So, I did a little math, and if they wore a shirt every other week, they would only wear that one shirt 12 times total. Was that worth the money I was spending?  SO I decided, shirts could be worn more than once every 14 days, but not less than seven because-honestly, who wants to see the same 7 shirts every week.  Tops=10.

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I thought through the rest of the categories, starting with my boy first, (way easier).  Taking into account; laundry, what season it was, wearing pants more than once before wash, potty training or not, how often we dress up, how many layers the season calls for, etc.  I came up with this!

Boy Capsule Wardrobe 

Tops:10

Bottoms: 9

Park and Play Clothes: 3 tops, 3 bottoms

Shoes: 4

Outerwear: 2

Dressy Outfits: 2 tops, 2 bottoms

Grand Total: 35 Items

I created a worksheet and filled in the clothing for a boy’s wardrobe.

Malachi Spring Wardrobe

I made sure to note the colors I had, and collar or length, so that I could diversify, and make matches. So, I was ready to go for Malachi, now to take a deep breath and get to the girl capsule.  THRILLING.

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I mean, maybe your daughter only wants to wear skirts and dresses, maybe she puts clean clothes in the laundry, maybe she hates strongly dislikes the clothes you love on her.

I decided I would print out a template for her, haul out the clothes I had in storage and just start chipping away at it.  I didn’t need to know what the end result was, I just needed to start and worry about the numbers later.

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It came together!  Hey, I might have to do some flexing,we’ll try these numbers for three months. And here it is:

Girl Capsule Wardrobe 

Tops: 10

Bottoms: (pants, leggings, skirts): 12

Park and Play clothes: 3 tops, 3 bottoms

Shoes: 4

Outerwear (including cardigans): 3

Dress Clothes: 2 dresses

Grand Total: 37!

With Eva, I realized I have some shopping to do.  I’ve got my plan in place, the worksheet helps me see the blank spaces quickly.  I took good notes including the color of clothes, so that I didn’t buy all navy shirts and navy shorts.  

Then, I took a picture on my phone of the list, so I’ll have it on hand when I’m at the store and see a sale.  GENIUS.  I mean… what a great idea.

To download your own kid capsule worksheet, 

click here: Printable Kid Capsule Wardrobe Worksheet

Happy Planning!

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Back to School: Kitchen Command Center

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by Angela

If your child has already started school (or you have a mailbox at your home), you have been snowballed over by papers. And multiply that by the number of kids you have. The start of school papers and junkmail MIGHT be the cause of tree shortages. Ok, maybe not. But it needs to be managed. Let’s talk about that!

I have had several friends ask me, “How do I keep up on the papers, mail and everyday home paper related stuff?”

My solution- a system and a home command center.

System- Part 1

Let’s start with mail: it’s the easier of the two. Mail has changed now a days. Many people don’t check their mailbox for days. The most important things like bills come by email. So there is not a lot to look forward to in the mailbox.  Well not that we looked forward to bills, but you know what I mean.  And I still find Christmas-time a good mail box time 🙂 And then there are also on occasional jewelry party invites or catalog too that might come in the mail! That is FUN mail- and I have totally digressed. Back to the mail system. Many people drive to their mailbox too now a days. So there is mail left in the car. Mail dumped on the counter. It just seems to spread. So as you have heard Laura and I say before on any of life areas in need of a system. Use the One Touch System. Touch that mail the least amount of time. My recycle bin is in the garage by my car. So when I look through the mail, I put the things need to be recycled right into the bin. I never bring it into the house. Place a small trash can near your car or on the outside of the door or walk the junk mail start to the trashcan. Try to only touch it once. Avoid piling it some where to sort for later.

Have a designated place to put the mail that you do need/ want to keep. That area might be your Home Command Center.

Moving to School Papers: In the first few minutes of coming home, sit down quickly with your to sort through the papers from their backpacks. They would be happy to pile it on the kitchen island for you to sort later if you don’t catch the few minutes it takes to get things where they need to go. Pull out the papers you won’t need first. Recycle them. Sort out the duplicates that you will get of the same flyer from each child’s backpack and just save one of them.  Have a designated place to put those papers/ flyers/ reminders that you will need. That area might be your Home Command Center. And don’t forget to have your kids put their backpacks in the designated place so its ready for the morning.

Command Center- Part 2

A command center is basically a designated area in your home that you use as a central place of  the “business” part of your home and family. It is not really your home office. It is an area that is smaller and functions as an organized catch all. It might include a place for mail. Both incoming and outgoing. It might have some areas that can be used for your children’s school papers. You will want a calendar of some sort.  It could be a place on the counter or take over a cabinet or a mix of both. You might store your recipes, meal plans and grocery list in your command center. My command center involves the junk drawer that has odd and ends that just don’t go anywhere else. Your command center can be small or can fill up a wall.   And I highly recommend that it be decorated as cute as it is functional. 🙂 I can’t explain it- things just look better piled into a basket.

Where to put your command center:

I like my command center in my kitchen (this seems the most common). It’s a central place of the home. I know others that have used an area in their laundry room. Or a desk area in their hallway too. Look around your home. Think creatively. Make sure its close to the doors you come in and out of and area you will regularly pass and use.

Last year I helped my friend get her command center up and running. We utilized a part of the counter top and a top and bottom cabinet plus a few drawers.

Command Center 1

To add a mix of decor and function. We used a little sandwich sign peg board- the other side is a chalkboard. A board with the hooks for her kids papers and added some burlap flowers to it. The wire file folder on the wall/ with fun printed fill folders for a place to store papers.  My friend used the drawers and bottom cabinets of her command center for some crafts and supplies that her kids could freely use on their own. She taught them that this is where they belonged and would need to be returned to when they were done using them. 

The upper cabinets held the functional with still a splash of decorated storage keepers. Add a jar to hold the pins. Printed boxes to hold some odds and ends.

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Still enjoy the things you see inside of your cabinets- even if you and your family are the only ones that typically see it 🙂

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My command center is a small little pocket in my kitchen. It works as a place where we can gather our things before heading out the door. We have hidden our chargers cords behind the basket and I put things to be delivered or taken with us there on the counter. Command Center 4

And my favorite part of my command center is the designated place for my purse. I have a pull out shelf in my bottom cabinet so I can put my purse and any other returns or things I don’t want out on the counter. Command Center 5

I like the combination for the counter and cabinet the best. As it allows for things you want in plain sign and things tucked away to have a place of their own.

Things that will be at home in your command center:

Note cards and envelopes. Stamps. Mailing tape. Return labels. Scissors. pens. calculator.  Stapler. If your fridge is near your command center in your kitchen, you might want to have a few fun magnets to hang some important flyers or a fun photo.

Where to shop for your command center things:

Our favorite- IKEA, Hobby Lobby, Target. They offer a great option of both functional with some decor flair.

Extra tips to keep in mind:

Find just the right size for your Command Center. Smaller will force or encourage you to stay on top of regularly going through the piles. Not allowing you to over stack the papers.

If you are still overrun with papers in you command center. See what flyers/ papers you can take a picture of with your phone and store it there or on your tablet for reference later.

Regularly spend a few minutes every so often organizing and straighten up your command center. What you might want to save for a bit you can maybe later throw away and clear it out. I think a misconception of organization is once you get organized you are good. When in reality you are going to need to tidy and reorganize every so often. This step will take just a few minutes though as you have the base organization done and a place where your things belong.

Happy Organizing! If you have a command center in your home we would love to see a pic of it over on our It’s So Delightful Facebook page! Pop over and share your ideas with us!!

 

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Back to School: Breakfast and Lunch

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by Laura

What is your number one breakfast memory from school mornings?  Is it cereal?  A pop tart while you walk to school? Pancakes, eggs and bacon?  

A lot of what we do as mommies is what we learned to do as kids because we thought that was the normal.  So if you grew up with a hot breakfast every morning, you might be more inclined to do that because it feels right and normal.  If you grew up on cereal, that is what feels right and normal to you.  Today, let’s talk about ideas to get SOME FORM of breakfast on the table before school and hey, let’s even pack some lunches too!  Scroll to the bottom for a free printable for your school plan.  

Breakfast 

Depending on your personality, your time constraints, number of kids, and culinary abilities, your breakfast goals are going to look different from other people so, let’s not try to be like your friend on Facebook, just be you ok?  I still think each of these types of people can have a plan. 

Simple Plan

Do the same breakfast every morning with one different day.  So this is the mama who does cereal, banana, and yogurt every morning.  Please not just cereal, ok?  That’s not enough for your kids.  

There’s very little prep time, few dishes, and it can be consumed quickly.  This mama might choose Wednesday’s or Friday’s to make boxed muffins, (the night before please you busy girl), oatmeal, or a quick French Toast.  Here’s what the plan might look like.  

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Moderate Plan

This mama has a bit more time so she might have a 5 day plan.  Monday-Toast and Eggs, Tuesday-English Muffins with Ham and Cheese Wednesday-Cereal, Banana and Yogurt, Thursday-French Toast and sausage links, Friday-Muffins and fruit.  Obviously with so many food allergies around, and preferences to foods this list is an example.  But, if you feel like you’d be able to handle some more time on breakfast, I suggest you pick 5 breakfasts or maybe even 10 to rotate through.  The goal is to not have to think about it all year long, and to have a set grocery list each week for breakfast items.  

If you are going to do a baked good, PLEASE do yourself a favor and make it the night before, or at least mix up the dry ingredients.  You will be amazed how nice it is to wake up and see the blueberry muffins are already done! 

I LOVE to double my batches of muffins, french toast, pancakes and waffles and freeze them.  They are so easy to heat up, and you feel like you made an awesome breakfast with the push of a toaster!  Here’s a screen shot of a 5 day breakfast rotation.  

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Breakfast To Go

Some families have long drives, late sleepers, or otherwise need to have breakfast on the go options.  This is where I love baked goods because they are filling, and feel like home, when you can’t sit down at the table.  I might make scones, muffins, coffee cake, or biscuits at some point the day before, and then they are ready for whoever has crazy early Marching Band practice or a bus to catch at 5:45.  Other ideas would be scrambled eggs and sausage in a tortilla, granola in yogurt, or peanut butter toast with bananas.  

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Plan it out

Now back to that piece of paper you had, write down all your breakfasts on that calendar and then on your grocery list, write down the items you will need for your shopping trip.  If you shop once a week or month, you’ll save money and SO MUCH BRAIN ENERGY.  

Lunch 

The same ideas apply here to lunch.  First thing’s first, make your lunch the night before school, but plan for your lunches now, TONIGHT, for the entire year.  

Simple Plan

I recommend 5 different lunches for the simple plan.  I know that might sound like a lot to some of you, but believe me, your kids will stop eating what you make if it becomes too repetitive.  Ever since we learned about the Food Groups in Elementary School I’ve always though of meals in terms of those groups.  So, you have protein, grain, dairy, vegetable, and fruits and fats to choose from.  Here’s a link for ideas if you just can’t think far beyond peanut butter and jelly.  

Add your plan to your calendar, make sure to add items to your grocery shopping list, and GIRL, you are ready for an entire year of Breakfast and Lunch.  

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Moderate Plan

Now, I just can’t make my brain spend too much energy on lunches, so my maximum number of lunches is 15.  That means these lunches are on a three week rotation, which doesn’t look pretty on your Monthly Meal Chart,  but it will still mean a year of no thinking!  

This is when I need to go to Pinterest.  I take out my MMC and get on Pinterest for school lunch ideas that my kids will eat, and just start writing it out and see how far I get.  I write down everything, the main, the sides, EVERYTHING.  Do all the thinking at one time.  

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If you want to, repeat a meal, or a main again that same week.  You could even make two lunches at one time if there’s a crazy week in front of you.

Finish the Plan and Free Printable

So tonight, you could have your entire year of breakfast and lunches thought out for the school year.  Take a picture on your phone of the plan just in case you need it while you’re out.

So here’s the Month Of Meals printable, and here’s our weekly meal plan printable with the grocery list.  Remember, tape it to the inside of your cupboard, and take a picture of it with your phone so you’ve got it while you’re out and about.  

Happy Packing you guys!  

 

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