Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Halloween Parade

We hope everyone is having a fun and safe Halloween! We thought it would be fun to show off our little monsters and munchkins today. Here they are...

Here is my baby girl last year. We were the Addams family so naturally I dressed her as Pubert. I'm pretty sure she'll get back at me someday for dressing her as a boy. But I did forego the mustache so she can't be too mad.

On our way home from Brazil we had a 13 hour layover in Charlotte, NC so we did a little exploring. We went to Cracker Barrell for the very first time ever and loved it! The food was so good that all 4 of us were satisfied (which doesn't happen often), the southern hospitality was wonderful and the gift shop was so charming! Even though we have a little collection of Halloween costumes we couldn't resist when we found these little fairy dresses. These little girls have been parading around in them since we got home! -Jenn

Just a quick photo from the Peanut gallery!

Happy Halloween,

Happy Halloween!!!

from our

Girlie Ghost
Izzy- (from Jake and the Neverland Pirate
and our famous 2012 Zombie Prom Queen
and  Jan.

 My scary little devil, witch, and vampires couldn't get a photogenic picture all together. But, here they are. We're wishing you a happy Halloween!!

What is your favorite costume ever? Please share! Pin It

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Belt Buster Bread Dip

So, I wasn't sure what to name this recipe. It has just about everything your doctor, dietitian, personal trainer tells you not to eat in it. This is exactly why it is so AWESOME (in small doses of course)!

Belt Buster Bread Dip


-Bread Bowl or loaf of french bread
-Extra loaf of bread (for dipping)
-2 cups of Chedder Cheese
-1 cup of Sour Cream
-1 package of Cream Cheese
-1 cup of cooked bacon pieces or ham chunks
-1 -2 cups of your favorite salsa 

-Hallow out the bread bowl or french bread (reserve the extra bread for dipping)
-Mix cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, bacon and salsa together in large bowl.
-Transfer the mixture into the bread bowl
-Sprinkle extra cheese on top
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. You want the dip to be warm and the cheese melted.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Give Thanks!

So I know Halloween hasn't come and gone yet but I wanted to give you an idea to help you and your family get ready for THANKSGIVING!!  It seems like it is the one holiday that can get overlooked and yet one of the most important holidays to remember.  We have so much to be thankful for!

This year our family is counting the days down to Thanksgiving by "GIVING THANKS".  Starting on November 1st we are sending a card of THANKS to someone each day until Thanksgiving.  This year there are 22 days.  The girls and I made cards to send but you can also pick up cheap thank you cards at the dollar store.  It has been fun to come up with a list of who to send a card to.   Here is a list of some that we have thought of :
1. Favorite Grocery Store.                                                 
2. Principal of your kids school.                                           
3. Local Police Officer or Fire Fighters.                                
4. Hair Stylist.                                                                     
5. Family Members.                                                            
6. Church Leaders.                                                             
7. Crossing Guard at your children's school.                        
8. Lunch Ladies or Custodians at your children's school.      
9. Favorite local TV station.                                                
10. Favorite Resturant.                                                        
11. Your children's friends.                                                  
12. Doctor's Office.                                                              
13. Book Author                                                                 
14. Nursing Home Resident                                                 
15. Dentist Office
16. Your favorite school teacher.
17. Favorite Blogger.
18. Local/School Librarian.
19. Your children's coach.
20. Your Neighbor.
21. Mailman or Mailwomen.
22. Your child.
23. Your spouse/your parent.
24. Favorite "product" company.
25. Boss/Spouse's Boss.
26. Secretary.
27. Someone in the Miltary
28. Your favorite Charity Organization.
Here's the simple card I made. I used the Circut Cartridge Walk in my Garden.
You will need a piece of white paper (4.25 x 5.5) , a flower pot, 3 stems, 3 flowers,
3 circles and the word thanks.

Simple and Easy!


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review

Since we at Potlucks on the Porch enjoy reading, our blog would not be complete without a monthly Book Review post.  On the 4th Friday of each month we will share our...

Couldn't put it down, Couldn't get through it or Could of done without it book.  

We look forward to hearing from you on what books you could or couldn't do without. 

Jan: I love to read books about real people and their personal journeys through life.  "Running with Angels" was such an inspiring book to me.  She tells her story of becoming a mother and the tragedies she faced with losing two children and having two other children with autoimmune diseases.  She shares her struggles and triumphs as she overcomes obesity as she begins training for a marathon and it all begins with a simple ten minute walk.  Whether you are looking for a book to help you on your health journey, coping with loss or to help you reach a specific goal this is a book to inspire you on your journey.

Jenn: We hope Jenn is enjoying a good book on the long airplane ride home from Brazil. We are glad she will be back with us soon!

Lauralee: This was a fun read that I picked up last month. If you go into it knowing that the author, Amy Chua, writes the book as somewhat of a self mocking memoir than you wont be as offended by some of her extreme parenting styles and opinions. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is  about the authors "Chinese" style of parenting and how  Americans celebrate mediocrity  in our children. The book received many reviews both positive and negative. I thought it was an entertaining read. And at the end of day I may adopt some of her rigid "Tiger Mom" ideologies.


Maren:I'm reading an Agatha Christie right now which isn't a surprise. I usually have at least one or two in the house at all times. Thank you library! This one is called "The Crooked House." It's about a wealthy family whose grandfather has mysteriously died and all evidence points to his new young wife. The point of view is from a man who is in love with the granddaughter and must solve the mystery so they can marry. So far it's a goodie and keeps me turning the pages.

Nancy: I found a book that I can't live without. It's called The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner. For many years as a mom, I  struggled with figuring out what to make for dinner. At 4 or 5 every night I would panic and throw a really crummy dinner together. It was not fun, tasty, or pleasant for anyone. I needed help and started watching the "Food Nanny." She helped me come up with a system that my family loves. In this book,she explains her system.   It is so simple AND life changing. She also gives recipes which are tried and proven. My family likes every single recipe I've made from it. I originally checked the book out from the library, but now I know that I can't live without it, and ordered it from I very highly recommend it!

What are you reading?  COULD your book be the one for me, please share!


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Art

 As Lauralee has shown us, Halloween decor doesn't need to be pricey to be awesome. Inspired by my sister Katy, I created this simple decoration that was cheap and fun to make.

I found the frame at my favorite store (D.I. of course). It was on sale for $2. What a deal! It looked so elegant and Gothic. Perfect for a Halloween something. If you don't want to hunt through the depths of the used, I saw similar frames at Target .

After this find I went hunting for the perfect greeting card. I found the ones that come in packs are better than single cards because they don't have writing all over them. This spider one was in a pack of six at Hallmark for $5.

I then tried to cut it into an oval to fit the frame. Bad idea. Katy gave me the idea to cut out the picture, mimicking the detail as closely as possible. Once it was cut out, I then glued it to some sparkly black scrap booking paper (.69 at Joann's) that I fit to the frame.

After about six minutes of hard labor I was done! It was so easy and the whole thing cost about eight bucks. Not bad if you ask me. Happy Halloween and Happy Creating!

Here it is hanging out with it's fellow decorations.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Liebster Award

As new bloggers any attention or traffic to our site is exciting! When we discovered that somebody thought of us for the Liebster Award we were thrilled! Thanks for giving us some love Michelle over at Eating the Nibbley Bibs (check out her blog) .

To accept the award the following questions need to be answered and passed along (because we are a group of ladies, we broke the questions up amongst us) :

11 Facts about ourselves:
  1.  Lauralee- I am the mother of 2 boys (ages 8 and 1).
  2.  Lauralee- I was born with 2 extra teeth that grew up my nasal cavity. I had them surgically removed when I was in pre-school (unfortunately, they couldn't be removed by picking my nose. Trust me, I tried). So don't ever let anyone tell you there is no such things as human unicorns (haha).
  3.  Jan- I am the mother of 3 girls (ages 10,7 and 18 months)
  4.  Jan- I am the youngest of 4 girls
  5.  Jan- I have lived in Utah my whole life and have never been skiing. 
  6. Jenn- I am in Brazil right now hanging out at the beach. 
  7. Jenn- I'm married to a Brazilian, and have 2 daughters.
  8. Nancy- I have 4 kiddos (7 girl, 5 boy, 2 twin girls:))
  9.  Nancy- I broke the cheek bone under my eye while playing basketball in Lithuania. (Basketball has never been a talent of mine).
  10. Maren- I am the youngest of 15 kids and plan to have 15 of my own. Ha ha ok that last part is not a fact but I do have a 1 year old!
  11.  Maren-I love to play the piano, bake and read.
Answer 11 questions from the blogger giving the award:
  1. What's the most memorable place you've vacationed? I was fortunate to spend a month in Europe a few year back with my parents, husband and oldest son. We visited France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. MARVELOUS! (Lauralee) 
  2. Favorite thing to do with your little ones? I love to watch movies (no matter how obnoxious the movie) snuggled up in blankets and cuddling. (Lauralee)
  3. What is your most favorite chore to do around the house? Definitely the laundry because a machine does it. I have yet to find a bathroom cleaning machine. (Maren) 
  4. Paper or plastic? Paper.  I send it to the girl's school to be recycled. (Jan)
  5. What is something from your childhood you want to make sure your kids know as well? You can do it! You are loved! Be nice! AND that Christmas is Magical. (Jan)
  6. In high school was it sports or music for you? Music.  I played the saxophone in the Marching Band, Concert Band, Pep Band and Jazz Band.  Some of my greatest friends were "Band Geeks"! (Jan)
  7. What is your creative outlet? Sewing (Jenn)
  8. You have a night free from the family-where are you & what are you doing? At Target or DI looking for buried treasure. (Jenn)
  9. Live Theatre or Movie Theater? That depends on how professional the Live Theatre is. I'll take Broadway anytime.  In some circumstances however :) I prefer the Movie Theater. (Nancy)
  10. What is the best advice you've received from another blogger? Blog about what you like and it will be easy. (Maren)
  11. Do you hide the mini Frosty that comes in the Wendy's kids meal so you can have it for yourself? I've never thought of doing that! Wow... thanks for the idea. My kids are going to think every Frosty has somehow disappeared from the earth. Haha. (Nancy)
Create 11 New Questions for the Bloggers I'm Going to Award & Recognize
  1.  If you could be somebody else for a day, who would it be and why?
  2.  Something that you can't live without (and we don't mean oxygen):
  3.  What do you usually bring to a "POTLUCK"?
  4.  What scares you the most? 
  5.  What is your greatest accomplishment thus far in life?
  6.  What made you fall in love with your husband?
  7.  If you could choose 1 dinner to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
  8.  What is your very very favorite movie and book?
  9.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  10.  What hobby makes you happiest?
  11.  If you could go back in time, which time period would you like to live in?

    Choose up to 11 Blogs to recognize with the Liebster Award:
    Please be sure to check out these amazing blogs!

    3.  lovelydayintheUK

    (Are you one of the bloggers we've sent the Liebster Award to?  
    The rules are simple: Do the things listed above 
    and be sure to let your bloggers know they've received the award. 

    Remember, this award should go to blogs with under 200 followers. 

    And feel free to link back to this blog as well!)

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Halloween Cupcakes... and teaching teens or tweens to decorate them

    I taught the 8-11 year old girls in my neighborhood and church group how to make my favorite Halloween cupcakes. I wish these cupcakes were totally my idea, but I must gratefully give credit to Make it and Love it (one of my very favorite blogs) for most of it.  These girls had lots of fun, and their cupcakes were adorable.
    So, make these yourself or teach some teens or tween or even scouts (although, good luck with that :)) how to decorate them. Here's how I taught the girls...

    What you'll need:
    butter cream frosting (this recipe)
       divide, leave some white, some purple, some pink with a touch of yellow
       put the purple in a piping bag with a large tip such as Wilton 1M or 2D
       put the pink/yellow in a piping back with Wilton #12 tip, or one with a medium size hole 
    White fondant
    A bowl or lid (to cut out the ghosts)
    chocolate icing (just a little container from the store, or make it)
    food writing markers, black, red (or red gel)
    chocolate chips
    gummy lifesavers
    Tootsie Pops
    Spider Rings
    Halloween Sprinkles
    First the eyeball....

    Spread white frosting on the cupcake. 
    Put a chocolate chip in the middle of a gummy lifesaver and put it in the middle of the cupcake.
    With a red food writer marker or red gel, draw lines for blood shot eyes.

    Next, the brain...
    With the pink/ yellow frosting pipe 2 zigzags in the middle, then do zigzags on the sides.

    For the mummies...
    Roll fondant into small strips and cut into pieces.
    Spread chocolate frosting on the cupcake.
    Put 2 M&M's on the cupcake as eyes.
    Draw little dots on the "eyes" for pupils.
    Put small strips of fondant around eyes to resemble a mummy. 

    Then make the spider swirls...
    With the bag of purple frosting, pipe swirls on the cake. Here is a great explanation for swirling the icing on a cupcake.
    Next, pour the sprinkles.
    Then stick a spider ring in the middle.  

    Last, make the ghosts...
    Swirl white frosting on a cupcake.
    Then put a tootsie pop in the swirl.
    Have someone roll out white fondant and cut with a bowl or lid to make ghosts the size you want.
    Cover the tootsie pop with the fondant.
    Draw eyes on the fondant ghost with black food writer marker. 

    There were lots of smiles all around with this activity...

    Thanks for stopping by!!

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    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Corn Chowder... inspired by Mimi's Cafe

    Exactly eight years ago, my husband and I were moving into or first house. I was nearly 9 months pregnant and miserable. Moving made me especially exhausted, obviously. Certain delays pushed our "move in"date nearly a month after we'd planned. I remember being just bone tired, and thinking I could not lift another finger. Our first baby was coming any day, and I knew I needed to muster up the energy to get at least her room unpacked.

    One evening as we were unpacking, our friends came over with corn chowder in pumpkin shaped soup bowls. It was divinely delicious. They also helped us unpack. My soul was delighted by the cuteness of the soup bowls, and warmed by the soup inside. Their timely help is one of the sweetest memories I have.

    Ever since then, corn chowder in pumpkin bowls is one of my very favorite meals for this time of year. A friend gave me this recipe from Mimi's Cafe, and it is so good! If your local grocery store doesn't sell soup bowls, make some with this recipe from The Idea Door. Or just serve it in regular bowls (it's almost as good as it is in pumpkin shaped bread bowls:).

    Seriously, make some. It's easy and yummy.
    Nancy Pin It

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    I am Woman!

    I amWoman!
    Photo Credit
    If you didn't already know, October is breast cancer awareness month. This got me to thinkin’, as women we should be conscious of our health and well-being every month. Often we put ourselves on the back burner. We are so busy taking care of others we often neglect ourselves. So, for this Friday Forum I have taken the challenge of choosing one thing for the rest of the month that solely focuses on me and my health (be it physical, emotional/mental or spiritual) and extended the challenge to the rest of the gals. Here is what we came up with:

    Lauralee: I remember the days when I would get up extra early so that I could make sure my hair was perfectly quaffed and tried on several outfits a day before choosing the right one. Well, those days seem like a high school memory. These days you rarely catch me without greasy hair, baggy sweats and a stained t-shirt. On a good day I  actually put on a bra (sorry, too much info).  So for this month I am going to take more pride in myself!  I challenge myself to get ready everyday (make-up included).

    Nancy: So here's my "t-m-i" confession I've recently found myself with ginormous, red swollen, dry bags under my eyes  & also some literal pains in the butt {and prep H isn't even working...sorry,  I said this is a t-m-i confession}. Therefore, thanks to Lauralee for making my think a bit more about my own health. It dawned on me that I am rationalizing  I'm too busy for exercise and sleep. "Hello!" I said to myself!! No wonder I'm not getting over these issues! So, I am committing {and this is hard for me} to be in bed by 10:30, and lights out by 11:00 {including my brain}. Also, I will exercise at least 3 times each week... besides chasing kids and cleaning house... which I have previously counted as my exercise.

    Jan: So "GRATEFUL" for this challenge.  This month I challenge myself to rededicate sharing my gratefuls each day with my three incredible sisters and my dad. (who is incredible too!) We send each other a daily grateful list through email.  I have not taken the opportunity to write them down lately and send them. By writing down my gratefuls each day it helps me to recognize how much "GOOD" there is in my life even if things "feel" or seem hard I have an abundance of goodness in my life.  It also helps to keep my mind from wandering into negative thoughts and I can tell a big difference in my day to day activities.  I also challenge myself to drink at least 64 oz of water a day.

    Maren: Wow we've got some good goals goin' on here! I decided I'm going to be a little kinder to myself this month. Usually I beat myself up that I'm not as kind, healthy, charitable, patient, motivated, fun, happy (the list goes on forever) as I should be but you know what? I'm going to shut that voice up. This month I am allowed to love me for me and ignore my weaknesses and rejoice in my strengths. October may become the best month yet!

    I encourage you to join us as well, let us know what it is you are doing.  And remember WE ARE WOMEN, HEAR US ROAR!

    Have a good one!
    Lauralee Pin It

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Caramel Popcorn Balls

    Caramel Popcorn Balls

    I have fond memories of Halloween.  When I was little, I remember helping my mom in the kitchen tie bows with curling ribbon and yarn around popcorn balls to hand out to the trick or treater's.  Back in those days only the "RICH" people bought candy, everyone else gave out homemade goods.  (Or at least that was what I thought.)  At this time my mom was a stay-at-home mom and she loved to be creative. Although some would call it a little bit "CRAZY" I loved it.  She was known for her philosophy of if you are going to do something: Do it Right, Do it Big and ALWAYS at the LAST MINUTE!!!   It never failed that we were tying bows right up til the moment that we got to leave to go trick or treating.  There are so many times as a mom now I watch myself trying to repeat those same memories for my kids.  We have continued to make Caramel Popcorn Balls for my kids to give out to their cousins and other family members.  So if you need a little homemade

    TREAT this will do the TRICK!


    Steps for the Caramel Sauce


    Caramel Sauce

     How to make a popcorn ball. 

    Happy Halloween!


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    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Beaded Halloween Pillows

    I was browsing around my local Tai Pan store the other day and noticed their adorable Halloween pillows. Immediately I thought, "Wow! Those are cute!" Then I checked the price. "Wow! I'm too cheap to afford these!" So of course I had to make my own.

    I found these darling Polk-a-dot prints at the fabric store and got 1/4 of a yard to make two. My darling friend Jenn had an idea to make borders on each pillow of the opposite fabric. Such a cute idea! But alas as I'm sure you've already observed that while her sewing is amazing, my sewing hasn't improved since I left it back in 1998. Thanks for nothing Mrs. Bird! (OK so it wasn't her fault) So you should use Jenn's idea for your pillows.

    Anyway, I measured them about 12" lengthwise but you can make them as big as you want.

    Next, draw an outline of want you want on your pillow or go and google some clip art. I did the second option and found some cute bats and a fun little "Boo!" that I thought would be fab. Cut out the clip art and trace it on to your fabric.

    When that is done then the real fun begins! Get your needle, corresponding colored thread and your beads. On straight lines you can put around 4-5 beads on your thread without it getting too loose and loopy. For curved lines it's best to keep 1-2 beads on the thread so you can accurately follow your pattern. Make sure to keep the stitches tight so the beads don't get loose. That makes it look sloppy.

    This "Boo" pattern took about a movie long to do. So simple. The bats took about 8 movies and lots of tv, just because it took way more beads to fill in their little bat bodies.

    Once your pattern is completely beaded, then turn your fabric inside out and glue the sides with Liquid Stitch and leaving an opening . Or use Real Stitch if you have a sewing machine.

    When your glue is dry, turn it right side out and stuff it with batting. Make sure to get the corners and all the rest full. Then seal up the opening. I used clothes pins to help the glue set.

    When that is done fix any lumps and ta-da! You are done and you have a fantastic pillow with which to adorn your couch.

    Have so much fun!

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