Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sports Bag To Go

Grab and go is really important to me when I have three boys on three separate football teams. I am so busy running and trying to keep track of their busy schedules that convenience and easy becomes very important to me. This is my sport bag. I pack every on the go essential I can think of into a bag at the beginning of football season. Once the bag is ready to go, I just have to grab it before we head out to the games. My oldest son is on the varsity team and they always have the concession stands open for the varsity games as well as a first aid station. But for my younger sons on the the freshman team and the middle school teams, we are left on our own. All those Saturday morning Pop Warner games have taught me the hard way to come prepared.

First of all, be ready to be your own first aid station. I was given an instant ice pack so I throw it in the bag. I have anti histamine for bug bites and those of us that suffer from seasonal allergies. I also throw in a nasal decongestant to help relieve a little sinus pressure when I am sitting out in the fresh air breathing in all those allergens! A first aid kit has a few packets of Tylenol, band aids, and a few packets of Neosporin. The year my daughter fell off the bottom step of the bleacher and skinned her knees was the year my sports bag started including emergency first aid.

I swear the first words out my children's mouth when we get to a game is..."I'm hungry!"

The second thing out of their mouth is..."I'm bored!" I have found a deck of cards, a notebook, a few pencils and a little imagination can go a long way to distracting the kids.

I have also learned the wisdom of preparing to battle the weather. Sunscreen, bug spray, a rain poncho, extra sunglasses in case you forget to grab yours and the home team has you facing the sunset!!!, an umbrella and I think hand sanitizer was supposed to be with snacks.

Mommies need hydration inside and out. I can't say enough about that.

Once you have your bag ready to go for the season, all you have to grab is a water bottle and a few snack before each game. I love my sports bag and so do a few of the parents that sit by us. Having everything gathered up and in a bag just makes games days a little more organized and it's one less thing I have to worry about when I am prepared for anything.

Also this is a great place to put those buttons of your kids posing with the ball in their sport uniforms. Add a little ribbon and you can decorate away! I don't have any photo buttons, but I do have a couple of buttons with the kids team logo on it that I will add to the bag and the ribbon I added to the handle is just a touch of team spirit. Our school colors are black and red so I purposefully used a black bag and red ribbon. Go team!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bike Ride Picnic and Breakfast Burritos

Summer is beginning to fade away. The boys are all in football practice now and the last few school supplies will be purchased this week. I am so sad that our summer has flown away in the blink of an eye. So we are taking every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and our relaxed schedule before school starts.

I diagonally laid out a couple of beach towels as table cloths. I set the table with fun place mats and white plastic plates that I picked up this summer at Wal Mart for twenty five cents each!

To get as much out of the summer vacation that we have left with the kids, we took a bike ride up to our favorite park and brought along a picnic breakfast. We used to do this when the kids were too young to ride their bikes. It is not necessarily a yearly tradition for us, but we have been enjoying picnic breakfasts for some time now.

The menu is always simple and easy to prepare and we must be able to carry everything for the picnic in a back pack. Last night we told the kids that we were going and they all scurried around to get their bikes, helmets, and clothes ready for this morning. It is so great to see that even a terribly sophisticated teenager can get excited about something so simple and basic.

We are taking juice boxes, green grapes, our big breakfast burritos, and morning glory muffins. Feeding my three football players can be a challenge at times, but I am pretty confident that even they will be able to fill up on this picnic.

So this morning we are making breakfast burritos. I love breakfast burritos. I love any kind of burrito actually. But more importantly my kids love burritos. I mean the LOVE them. They are so easy to make and if you make a double batch and freeze them, you have a quick grab anytime hunger strikes. And for teenagers, you'll be grabbing these babies quite often.

The board of ingredients is again simple and easy to find staples.

Start by browning and breaking up your pound of bulk sausage. Cook the sausage all the way through. While the sausage is cooking, you can shred the cheese.

When the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and put the sausage into a big bowl.

Cook the bacon in the same hot pan the sausage was just cooked in. Cook the bacon until it is crisp. I drain the bacon on a paper towel for a few minutes to remove any excess fat. Then add the bacon to the bowl of sausage.

Then drain all the fat from the fry pan. If the fat dribbles on the edge of your pan you'll want to wipe it away with a paper towel so your pan does not catch on fire. Add your peppers and onions. Cook the veggies until they soften up and the onions are translucent. I use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan while the veggies are cooking. The wooden spoon helps loosen the browned bits from the meat cooking and those browned bits are flavor.

When the veggies are cooked to your satisfaction add them to the bowl of meat.

Add the fat back to the fry pan and add the frozen hash browns. Season them with a pinch of salt and a pinch black pepper. Let them crisp up a bit after they are cooked. The crunchy bits are so good. Add the potatoes to the bowl of veggies and meat.

Mix it all together.

Crack a dozen eggs into a bowl.

Whisk them together.

Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil to your fry pan and add the eggs. Scramble the eggs until they are almost completely cooked. Then add the rest of the burritos mixture and combine.

And now we start assembling the breakfast burrito of champions. Slap down a sheet of wax paper. Nothing else will do. It must be wax paper.

Then put a tortilla down in the middle of the wax paper. Add 1/2 cup of burrito mixture down the center of the tortilla.

Add 1/4 cup of cheese to the top of the mixture.

Then fold the tortilla up.

Finally wrap the burrito up in the wax paper by folding the point facing towards yourself up and over the burrito.

Fold the two ends in towards the middle.

And roll the burrito away from you to finish.

I store the burritos in a plastic zip lock bag. They can then go in the freezer or into the fridge.

Thawed burritos can be microwaved on high for one minute and they come out steaming hot. Let them sit for at least a minute before you try to eat it.

Big Breakfast Burritos


1 lb. Breakfast Sausage
1/4 lb. Bacon, Cut Into Thin Strips
1 Large Onion, Diced
1 Red Pepper, Diced
4 Cups Frozen Shredded Hash Browns
Olive Oil
1 lb Cheese Shredded, Colby Jack or Other Melting Cheese
15 to 18 Fajitas Size Tortillas


1. Fully cook the sausage in a large non stick fry pan over medium heat breaking the sausage into small bits as it cooks. Remove the sausage from the pan and put in a mixing bowl. Fully cook the bacon strips in the fry pan. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and add it to the bowl of sausage. Pour the fat out of the pan into a small bowl. If any fat drips on the outside of the pan, wipe it off with a paper towel. Add the red pepper and onion to the fry pan. Cook the veggies until they are soft and tender. While the veggies cook stir them and scrape the bottom of the pan removing the brown bits from the pan. Add the cooked veggies to the bowl of meat. Add the fat back to the pan or discard and add the same amount of olive oil to the fry pan. Sprinkle the hash browns into the pan. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes until they have crunchy edges. Add the cooked potatoes to the bowl of meat and veggies. Mix well.

2. Crack a dozen eggs into a bowl and whisk together. Add a swirl of olive oil to the bottom of the fry pan and add the eggs to the pan. Scramble the eggs until they are mostly cooked. Add the mixture of veggies, meat and potatoes to the eggs and mix well. When eggs are fully cooked, turn the heat off.

3. Place a sheet of wax paper on the counter and put a tortilla in the middle of the paper. Add a 1/2 cup of the egg mixture to the middle of the tortilla. Add a 1/4 cup of cheese to the top of the egg mixture. Fold the tortilla closed and wrap in the wax paper. Tear the wax paper back to enjoy or place the wrapped burritos in a storage container and either freeze or refrigerate them. Make 12 to 15 burritos. Enjoy!

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birthday Party Planning Tips

To plan this birthday party, I asked my daughter what was most important to her. I used that list to make sure that the things most important to her would be highlights of the party. I did not want to knock myself out trying to achieve something my daughter could care less about. I recommend asking your child what is important to them. You might be really surprised about what they want.

For pink decorations, I had the kids blow up the balloons with their hot air! (Getting helium was an extra cost and I am on a budget! Kids come with plenty of hot air that is 100% free!) Then I took the thread and tied a good firm loop in one end. I took a balloon and tied it to the thread every five inches. The balloons sort of made their own pattern but still looked floaty and romantic. I formed a second loop at the other end of the garland. I hooked the garland ends on the window latches and added a white Command hook to the ceiling to create the arch. If you don't have window latches to use, then just use two more Command hooks. And as a final touch, we curled the ribbon and just tied two foot sections onto the garland every so often. My daughter loved it. We also made a balloon garland for the kids' rec room where most of the party was going to take place. For this room we just hooked the balloons over the ceiling fan. It took a bit of time to tie all the balloons together, but it was cheap and got raves from all the parents and kids.

I also bought two rolls of wrapping paper. One became the table cloth, the other one turned into a back drop for photos and I used a portion to cover the popcorn tin. All of that for $6.00. Here are two special girls modeling the fabulous background for me.

The all important birthday cake was fun to create out of cupcakes. My daughter LOVES cupcakes so we made them for her party. I whipped up a white cake mix and put it into plain white cupcake papers. When the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I frosted them with white frosting. I took a tube of glittering pink gel and squirted it all over the top of the white frosting and smoothed it over with a knife. White nonpareils went on top of that. Finally I used a sparkling candle cut in half as the candle.

Gift bags are a big deal at birthday parties. My daughter wanted the gift bags to include things she loves...mainly chocolate and jewelry. We made bags of chocolate covered pretzel rods and bags of our special polka dot candy mix. For the girls we made a set of jewelry including a pair of earrings and a bracelet in the party theme colors of brown, pink and green. I also picked up plastic sunglasses at Wal Mart and plastic rings.

To make the jewelry, I bought green, pink and brown beads from Wal Mart along with a set of bronze findings. The findings set included the pieces to make 5 bracelets, 4 pair of earrings and I still have pieces leftover for another project.

Let's make the earrings first. I slipped three beads on a wire called eye pins and used my round-nose pliers to make a round loop at the top of the wire. Then I slipped it onto a french earring wire and closed the connection.

For the bracelets, I tie about 12 inches of fishing line onto a lobster clasp leaving about an one inch tail.

Then I thread the beads onto the fishing line. I make sure to put the beads over the tail of the knot. The pattern I used for this bracelet was pretty simple, but you can do whatever you would like. After the beads have been strung, I added two single jump rings to the fishing line.

I tied the fishing line into a knot over the two jump rings and ran about an inch back through the beads.

When everything was ready to go, we gathered everything on the craft room table.

I laid eight sheets of tissue paper on the table. The boys' gift bags included a bag of pretzels, a bag of candy, sunglasses and a plastic sport whistle. Everything was laid out in the middle of the top half of the tissue paper.

Then the bottom half of the tissue paper was flipped up.

Gather up the tissue paper.

And finally drop it all in the gift bag.

For more pictures and tips of how I pulled this party together click here.

My Wal Mart Shopping List:
8 Gift Bags...($1.00 each) $8.00
Pink Tissue Paper
2 Rolls Polka Dot Wrapping Paper...($3.00 each) $6.00
Pink Beads
Green Beads
Brown Beads
Bronze Findings Kit
Pink M&M's
Green M&M's
Pink Malt Balls
Brown Malt Balls
Chocolate covered Chocolate Cookies
Treat Bags
7 Up
Kiwi Fruit
Microwave Pop Corn
Pink Straws...$.88
Pink Plates
Pink Napkins
Pink Balloons
Plastic Sunglasses
Plastic Rings
Plastic Sport Whistles
Pink Glitter Gel
Sparkling Candles
White Cake Mix
White Frosting
Brown Ribbon with White Polka Dots
Pink Ribbon with White Polka Dots
Thin Green Ribbon
Thin Blue Ribbon