February's HUGE hoho {and a couple of reminders}

Just wanted you to meet someone today...February's HUGE hoho (The little guy is in the photo for scale but not included in the raffles).

So far this year we've already raised $1095 to give 54 people clean water!!!  54 people have changed lives because of YOU GUYS!  That is so awesome!  I can't wait to see what the year holds! :)

Thank you thank you thank you!!
As a reminder, each entry is just $10!  Every month I'll make a new HUGE hoho!  You can make your donation HERE on my Hohos for Jesus page! :)  Or you can visit this button over on the right. :)

Don't forget to enter the giveaway by Moen to winn $100 to Home Depot! :) 
And check out my post about saving for college with T Rowe Price!

Now go go go! :)

Happy Sunday everyone!

a little of lately.

Well...January is over.  Can you believe it?  January was a month of finding rhythm.  And I think I found it.  Most weeks I make hohos on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are for "other".  Weekends are for fun.   At least that's the plan.  Interruptions include snow days and sickness but overall we are making the most of 2013 so far.  How about you?  Are you making the year happen or letting it happen?  Here's how we're making it happen so far...
I've been making pancakes for the boys on Monday mornings...makes breakfast for the week and the boys love it.  WIN.
Child labor is not a crime in this house.  Work together play together, right?
Moses is unofficially in charge of the artwork in the bathroom...
Cake making for one of Doug's employees.  You never outgrow a good cake.
These are our favorite daily devotionals.  You can buy them all on Amazon.
Everyone still gets treats each week...teachers, directors, coworkers and even my mailman. 
Aaron loves dalmations.  He's getting a life sized one for his birthday this month.  He may die of Joy.
The weather here has been very Virginia.  Snow one day, riding bikes with no jackets the next.  I'm OK with that. 
Went to my first concert in years and years.  Zac Brown Band was awesome.  We had lots of fun.
Finally decorating the boys room. :)
A favorite activity on a cold day?  Bath, jets, bubble and bathroom heater. :)
Love day is coming.
Winner of January's HUGE hoho!  A new one coming! :)
I made 161 hohos in January. :) You can get on the waiting list...right now it's into mid-March.  Email me at ricracandpompoms @ gmail.com to get one!
Because I can't just watch TV...I've been working on this. :) Pattern from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.
 Every Saturday we work together to reset the house and bring it back to spotless and together.  A great way to start the weekend. 
 Family portrait collect started.  One of two I have so far from Newspaper Balloon. :) Go get one for you! :)
Everyone makes snowmen...how many people make snow-Jabba?

I hope your weekend is wonderful.  :) Time to go get on that cleaning!

Saving for College {a sponsored post}

Are you a parent, like me, who thinks and wonders how you'll be able to pay for college when the time comes?  I don't know about your household, but in ours, further education of some sort is a non-negotiable.  There are just too few opportunities to succeed these days without some sort of degree or extended education program.  Having a college degree is now a mainstream thing; most job offers won't even look at or consider you if you don't have one.

I want the world to be wide open to my boys.  When I applied to go to college, I was a woman on a mission.  I had been told from a young age that I was TOO DUMB for college, despite good grades all through school.  True story.  Apparently my parents had so little faith in my ability to succeed in college that they denied me their tax information come time to apply for financial aid.  Do you know what that meant?  Instead of getting a FREE RIDE because my parents were so poor, I had to take out student loans to pay for college, on top of having several jobs.
I'm still paying for my parents cruelty. I did, however, graduate Magna Cum Laude. So there is that. :)

I want the opposite for my boys.  I want them to run forward into their futures with their only worry to be WHERE to go to college (Virginia Tech, of course).  The how-to-pay is on my shoulders as a parent (along with Doug).

Since this is something I have thought about since the day Moses was born over six years ago, I was excited to be approached by T. Rowe Price to look over their savings options for just this purpose.

After becoming more familiar with what they have to offer, I'm excited to get started, to start SOMEWHERE (because honestly, isn't the thought of saving thousands of dollars completely daunting?!).

I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that you could start with as little as $50 a month.  I can do that.  I could even do that PER child.  Not only that, but anyone can contribute... aunts, uncles, grandparents.  What do they need with another toy when that money could go towards their education instead and provide a lasting gift?

Some other aspects I liked included tax-free benefits, nationwide choices in colleges (if for some crazy reason they don't choose Virginia Tech) and you can get the account fee waved if you sign up for an automatic payment plan (because I honestly don't need another thing to remember anyway).

And just in case they get a full scholarship somewhere, the money can also be used for things like books and housing and other fees.

They offer a very user-friendly, down-to-earth plan to help parents like us get started.  I like that I can read what they are talking about and understand it.  Plain and simple.

Take a look and see for yourself; maybe you need someplace to start like me.

The T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan is offered by the Education Trust of Alaska. You should compare this Plan with any 529 college savings plan offered by your home state or your beneficiary's home state and consider, before investing, any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in the home state's plan. Please read the Plan's Disclosure Document which includes investment objectives, risks, fees, charges and expenses, and other information. Earnings on a distribution not used for qualified expenses may be subject to income taxes and a 10% federal penalty. State tax laws and treatment may vary.You should read the Plan Disclosure Document carefully before investing. For other important legal information, please read the Plan's Privacy Policy. T. Rowe Price Investment Services, Inc., Distributor/Underwriter.

Visit the T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan site to learn how to get started.

and super hero valentines {a repost}

In case cars aren't your thing...here's what Sara and I did last year! :) This is a repost from last Valentines Day! :) 

So I will start by stating that these Superhero Valentines are totally inspired by the ones that I found on Zakka Life.  I saw them.  Loved them.  And knew instantly that Moses would love them and simultaneously have an issue with them.  The issue would be "What superhero are they?"  And sure enough, I showed them to him and he asked "What superhero are they supposed to be?".  :)
So with the help of my favorite Designer, Sara, I present you with Superhero specific Valentine pops. 
Moses loves them...and is already excited to take them to his class.  If you recall, the sole reason that Moses wanted to go to school in the first place was Valentines.  Getting and giving them.  
Here is what you need to make them:
Superhero Printables FREE from Less Ordinary Designs
stiff felt (from Micheals)
hole punch
2in paper punch (or you can use scissors)
coordinating ribbon
lollypops (tootsie pops have nice superhero colors)
glue (hot or craft will work)
cape template (I will try to come back and add a pattern for this later...but you can really just do your best to come up with a good cape shape)
Start by punching out your superhero circles.
Emblems are for the capes and the messages are for the lolly sticks. 
Cut out your capes using your pattern.
 Glue the superhero emblems onto the capes. 
 Using your hole punch, punch a hole in the top center of each cape. 
Slide the lollypop through the hole and tie a coordinating ribbon on below.
It helps to twist the pop in like a screw almost.
Punch a hole in the top and bottom of each message printable circle and slide onto the stick.
Yay!  You are done and your OCD child will be happy! :)
I love them.  Moses loves them.  Everyone is happy.  

Hope your day is SUPER! :)

Thanks to Sara for the awesome free printable! :)

Free Hotwheels printable! {Valentines for boys!}

My friend Sara from Less Ordinary Designs is the best.  The best.  More times than I can count now I've emailed her with a vision I had but didn't have the talent to execute and she has come through for me every time.  This Valentines day isn't any different. 
Moses has started reading.  He also LOVES Valentines day.  He also does not like to talk about girls.  Or liking them.  Or loving them.  Or anything remotely involving being mushy with them.  I knew that he would be unsure about giving out Valentines that said things about liking or loving someone.

But, he is ok with being friends with them.  And he loves cars, as any boy does.  An email or two with my friend Sara and magic happened.  Again.

She took the idea in my mind and executed it perfectly into a free printable for me to share with you! 
The second miracle is that he gladly sat and filled them all in.  In one sitting.  With no whining.  
Even Aaron worked hard to write his name on each one.  
The boys LOVED the idea of giving each of their friends a little gift.  As Aaron chose his cars he would say "And this one is for Henry and this one for Natalia".  They put some thought into it.  
After you visit Sara and download the printable, you'll want to grab some of these treat bags {and some candy if you want, of course you could totally skip the candy part}.  
You simply print as many as you need.  Trim with scissors or a paper trimmer.  Fold in half and staple over your filled bag.  {You could even skip the bag, leave the car in its original packaging and staple the topper right to it!}  I folded the bags in half before I stapled the topper on {with the opening starting to the right, fold with the opening ending up on the left.}  
And that was it.  We're done and ready for Valentines day with Valentines perfect for a boy who's a little sensitive about his words to girls. :)

Want to make some?  Head on over to Sara to grab the printable and get started! :)

Some reminders on Sunday...

Don't forget to enter the giveaway by Moen to winn $100 to Home Depot! :) 

And just a few more days to enter the drawing for this months HUGE hoho!  We've already raised $1085 to give 54 people clean water!!!

As a reminder, each entry is just $10!  Every month I'll make a new HUGE hoho!  You can make your donation HERE on my Hohos for Jesus page! :) 

Now go go go! :)

Happy Sunday everyone!

Enchilada Stuffed Mushrooms {& Enchilada Chicken}

We're on a bit of a mushroom kick in our house.  A delicious, delicious mushroom kick.  These Enchilada stuffed mushrooms were the first ones we tried this week.

Doug says they are the BEST mushrooms he has ever had.  We liked them so much that I made another version of them the next day.

Doug and I have been doing a low-carb life change since mid-August, Doug has amazingly lost over fifty pounds and I've dropped about 15 pounds.  The biggest thing for us is that we don't diet.  This is not a diet to us but a lifestyle change.  I don't diet.  I will never diet.  I hate that women feel like they need to live their lives on a diet.  I don't want to live a life where I have to count calories or starve myself or never have dessert.  I think we've been successful with this diet because we still have all the things we love.  We still eat dessert and pizza and cheese fries.  We've just stopped having bread with every meal and no pasta and no rice and no potatoes with every meal.  And because they are such reasonable changes, and I can still have dessert, we've had great success.  All that to say six months of cooking low-carb had started to hinder my cooking creativity.   

These mushrooms fixed that.  Fixed either way I show you here is a super tasty low-carb MEAL. :)

Here is how you make the stuffed mushrooms...

You need:
1-2 packages of baby portabella mushrooms or 4 large ones
6oz cream cheese softened
1/2 a can of enchilada sauce
1 tsp taco seasoning
1-2 green onions chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 Parmesan cheese (the real stuff)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar
1/4 cup sharp cheddar (for topping)

Line a baking dish with parchment paper for easy clean up.  Wash and dry mushrooms.  

Combine all ingredients well except 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.  Fill mushrooms and place in lined baking dish.  If you are using the large mushrooms just make a nice even layer on the mushroom cap.  Drizzle with enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is nice and browned.

We enjoyed these with a large salad and did not miss meat at ALL.  SO SO good!

So good that I made it again the next night but slightly differently.  I made the mushrooms just like before but this time I used a larger pan.  I filled the mushrooms with the filling, added them to the pan, then added some raw chicken breast tenderloins.  THEN drizzled everything with enchilada sauce and cheese.  Baked as before for 30 minutes or until chicken was done.

BAM.  AMAZING!  Doug deemed it a once a week meal.     
I hope you enjoy them! I'll be back with more of the recipes we tried this week! :)

Oops...edited to add that this recipe was adapted from Laurens Latest.

how to make quilted {or pieced} feathers.

A couple of weekends ago I set out to make a gift for a bird loving friend.  A few feathery pins on Pinterest set me off in the feather direction.  After a few days of thought and some playing around with my sewing machine and fabrics, I figured out a fun and easy way to make some pretty cute feather appliques.
Once the applique is made you can add it to pillows or curtains or a skirt if you would like.  Once you get the method down they're pretty easy to make and the color combinations are endless.

Want to make some?

You will need:
-A feather stencil.  I suggest finding a clip art or something via Google and duplicating that by either drawing it or printing it off and enlarging it to as big as you are wanting to make.
-Lots of strips of fabric of varying widths.  The length will depend on how wide your feather will be...my feather was 5in wide so I made my strips 6in long or so.  To be sure you are making them long enough, do the first couple of steps and lay your stencil (folded in half) on them at an angle to make sure it's wide enough.
To start on the first side you will lay two strips right side together with the top piece "stepped up" about an inch...
and sew along one side. 
Open it up and press the seam with the back of your thumb nail...
Lay another piece on top of the strip on the far right, step the edge up again and sew together along the edge again...repeat until you have enough strips sewn together to suit your pattern.  Don't worry about the bottom so much as you make sure the top looks like stairs going up UP UP. 
To do the other side of the feather you are going to do the same process EXCEPT each new strip will "step down" an inch or so.  Repeat until it's as long as the other half.  Press all seams flat in the same direction.  Trim edges as shown. 
Put right sides together and sew along the straight edge. 
Open and press the center seam flat.
Using the sewable Heat and Bond and apply (according to the directions) to the back of your feather.
Trace your pattern and cut it out! You're done!
You can now add it to anything!  Just follow the directions on the Heat and Bond then sew around the edges to add some detail.  I usually do a zig-zag stitch and then a straight stitch on top of that.
Yay! So pretty and so many fun possibilities. :) Have fun making some! :) I'll try to answer any questions in the comments. :)

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