Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

IMG_4801 Recipes seem like such an easy blog post to throw out there…I mean, I have to cook dinner anyway, right? Here’s one of my hubby’s favorite recipes, and it’s great ‘cuz it gets Cooper to eat some veggies too. It comes together pretty quickly, apart from the chopping. But if you prep ahead of time, it’s not that big of a deal.

Thai Chicken Salad (or wrap)

with Spicy Peanut Sauce

3 (6oz.) chicken breasts

1T soy sauce

1T vegetable oil


1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1 cup shredded carrots (I shred mine in the food processor – cheaper than buying shredded)

3 scallions, sliced

12 basil leaves, chopped

3T chopped mint leaves

1T sesame seeds

2tsp. sugar

2T rice wine vinegar

Peanut Sauce:

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter, softened (put in microwave for about 30 seconds)

2T soy sauce

1T rice wine vinegar

1/4tsp. cayenne pepper

2T vegetable oil

4 flour tortillas (if you want to eat them as a wrap)


1.  Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss chicken with soy and oil and grill 6 minutes on each side.IMG_4795 IMG_4796 *Note – you don’t have to use a grill

2.  Combine cucumber, sprouts, carrots, scallions, basil, mint and sesame with a generous sprinkle of sugar and vinegar. Season salad with salt, to taste, if you’d like. IMG_4798 3. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne together (if you don’t want it too spicy, adjust the cayenne). IMG_4799Stream in vegetable oil.IMG_4800  4. Slice cooked chicken on an angle. Toss with veggies and herbs.

5. Pile chicken and veggies in wraps (or on plate for salad) and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce. Eat up! Yum. =P


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You’s

IMG_4763 One reason why I occasionally “slack” on posting to the blog is because I helped head up a new MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program this spring at my church. If you’re unfamiliar with MOPS, and have a child between 0 through kindergarten, you’ve got to check it out!

I joined a MOPS group when I first moved to the area, was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and wasn’t planning on working. How was I going to meet PEOPLE, let alone fellow moms who could help me figure out this whole parenting thing! It was a lifesaver. Many groups will even provide dinners for the first 2 weeks after baby is born to help you and your family out. What a blessing!

Anyhow…back to the blog post at hand! I had a group of about 10 leaders and 15 childcare workers that deserved a HUGE thank you for all the work they did to create a successful MOPS group. I found these adorable little thank you boxes of candy over at Pioneer Party and thought it’d be fun to recreate them.

This is when I came upon a stroke of pure genius! I liked the color of the tags they used and wanted something similar, but without having to actually get out of the house with both kids to buy paper. They kind of looked like paper grocery bags, perhaps I could cut them to 8 1/2x11 and put it through my printer? *dance of joy* It worked! Free, adorable paper! I’m SO using this from now on. =)  

I don’t know about you, but I am more productive when I create a sort of assembly line when I’m making things in a large quantity (which I consider 25 to be – I know, it’s all relative). So, here’s what I did.


  • Clear bags from Michael’s (I’m pretty sure they were the smallest they carry)
  • Cute colored ribbon (I got away with about 2”/bag of candy)
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Whoppers (or something chocolate – I used 4 boxes from the Dollar Tree)
  • Lemonheads (or something lemon – I only need 2-3 boxes of these)
  • Peach rings (these are a little more pricey, I purchased 2 lbs. worth at the store, and each person only got 4 rings, sorry guys =( )
  • Extra gum (I did 2 packs/person)
  • Cute container
  • Tissue paper or grass filler

Step 1: Fill the bags with candy.

*You may want to purchase extra candy as some MAY disappear as the bags are being filled. =)IMG_4759 Step 2: Print and cut out all the tags and ribbon.IMG_4762 Step 3: Fold the ribbon in half and staple between the label and the bag of candy.

*It adds such a cute little touch, without having to buy loads of ribbon.IMG_4761 Step 4: Fill the bottom of your container with either grass or tissue paper (I actually found one sheet of wadded up tissue paper to work much better) and load it up! =)

*I used 2 separate containers. I found these cute little sand castle pails at Party City.IMG_4767 *And these came in a 2 pack at the Dollar Tree.IMG_4768 The recipients thought they were adorable and hopefully felt appreciated…that was the goal. =) Happy crafting! I very much enjoyed my husband’s gigantic eye roll when he saw these cutie thank you gifts. The bigger the eye roll, the cuter the craft, it seems to be. hehe

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pickle Jar Cuteness

IMG_4700 I found this adorable project over at eighteen25. Feel free to check out her tutorial as well. Her pictures are much more fun to look at for sure! But, as I always say, I wanna try out the projects before I share them with you. So, here’s how it went down in the Nicholas household. =)


  • Old glass jars (I used a jelly jar, an olive jar, and a red pepper jar)
  • Candlestick holders
  • White spray paint (and probably a primer as well)
  • Gorilla glue (or E6000)


1. Remove labels from glass jars (I just soaked them, you can also use rubbing alcohol for those stubborn stick-ons).

2. Spray paint candlestick holders and lids.

Look at how ugly they were to begin with! IMG_4597 By the way, I purchased the two glass ones at the Dollar Tree and the brass one at Good Will. If you ever need some, visit the Good Will! Man did they have a TON to choose from!

**Note to self, when primer is recommended, you really should not skip this step. I did spray paint the lids gray first, then white. But the stamped date on one of the lids still totally shows through! But, they’re so cute I don’t think anyone will notice. If it really bugs me, I’ll just mod-podge some cute craft paper on the top.

***Second note to self, talk to my friend who spray paints on a regular basis and obtain some tips. (although I think it’s simply due to my lack of patience). After my first two coats, I had bubbles, exhibit A:IMG_4599 But, I did another coat or two, and they disappeared. But, either way, I need to fine tune my spray painting techniques. IMG_4598 3. Affix the jars on using gorilla glue.

It may seem a bit sketchy at first, depending on your jars. Mine did not have a flat bottom, so they felt unsteady. What I did was turned the jars upside down and let the glue dry with the candlestick holders sitting on top of the bottom of the jar, if that makes sense. It dried perfectly, despite the uneven surface! Sorry I didn’t take a pic.

4. Fill the jars with something cute, according to the nearest holiday, and put on display for all to ooh and ahh over! =) I’d love to hear your suggestions for what to put in them. Here are some of my thoughts, please share yours!

** valentine’s day**

conversation hearts

hershey kisses

** st. patty’s day**

split green peas

** memorial day**

red, white and blue jelly bellies

small wooden stars

rolled up flags

foil patriotic garland

** summer**

shells and sand

blue glass pebbles

** fall**

autumn leaves

fresh cranberries


pencils (good ol’ You’ve got mail)

candy corn

** general**

coffee beans




variety of silverware?

cinnamon sticks

wine corks


Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicken Croissants

IMG_4704 I’m sure you’ve seen this done, but if you haven’t, you’ve got to try it! It’s easy, delicious, and the clean-up is pretty easy. I just recently used it for Mother’s Day. You can prepare the filling in advance and keep it in the fridge.  I would add the cashews last minute, however.


8 oz. cream cheese

3 T melted butter

2 c. cooked cubed chicken (or canned)

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 T Dijon mustard

1 T chopped onion or celery

¼ c. cashews

1 (8oz.) can crescent rolls

¾ c. bread crumbs


Blend 2 T butter and 8 oz. cream cheese. Fold in next 6 ingredients. Put ¼ cup into two crescent rolls pinched together. Roll into crescent shape (or, just twist up the edges into a knot). Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes on ungreased pan (or according to packaged directions). Serves 4-6.

**Helpful hint? Cook the chicken in the crockpot so it shreds easy. I throw the frozen chicken breasts in and cook on high for 4 hours. So easy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day - 2011

Family - Cooper laughing

I finally got my first family photo since Allie’s arrived that’s actually pretty decent! Happy Mother’s Day to me! =) As I mentioned in the tin can tutorial, my mom and I love hosting and decorating. Mother’s Day may be an excuse, but I also dedicated my daughter, Allison, in church this year on Mother’s Day. A second excuse to have a gorgeous lunch that day!

Here’s a picture of the table, decorated for the occasion:IMG_4686 IMG_4685  Let me break down all the cute decorations we had fun concocting!

I started with the table cloth, purchased from Target. Only $10, and I’ll get so much use out of it! I wanted to set up the table on the back porch, but weather was stinky! =( Then, I bought the red placemats from Bed Bath and Beyond. Of course I used my coupon! The white napkins were from Cost Plus (one of the cheapest places I have found them. Who would think napkins could be so expensive?). Now, we get crafty…

Napkin rings

IMG_4702 I bought two bunches of flowers at Michaels, one orange and one green (on sale with coupons, yay!) and used wire cutters to cut the flower off the stem, leaving just enough to wrap around the twig-like napkin rings I already had laying around the house. I didn’t have enough napkin rings, so I used ribbon for the others and simply tied the ribbon around the napkin, and looped the wire flower around the ribbon, wallah! Custom napkin rings!

Chair coversIMG_4691


I’m so glad I finally broke down and figured these out! I do love my black dining chairs, however, when I want to do a light colored theme, I find myself not liking them. The solution? Chair covers! I found pillow protectors at Target for around $1 a piece. C’mon, I couldn’t have even bought the fabric for that cheap almost! They’re zippered, so I simply unzipped and slipped it over the chair!

Then, I tied the ribbon around each chair (again, thank you 40% Michael’s coupon…which by the way, you can find one almost anytime if you simply do a search online) and added a flower in the middle. So elegant for so cheap!

mother’s day banner 


My mom doctored up this beauty of a banner in Microsoft Publisher. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but basically she used the circle shape, filled in with one color, separate colored border. Then found a flower image online, and used Word Art to add the letter. Cut out the circles after you print them and string them onto the ribbon (start with the last letter of the word, that’s much easier). I also finally broke down and bought the double ribbon punch so I didn’t have to cut the two slits to slide the ribbon through. Such a time saver!

cupcake toppers

IMG_4693Pretty much shrunk down the banner image and changed the words for these darling cupcake toppers. We cut 6” lollipop sticks in half and used packing tape to affix each topper to the stick behind. You can double side them which is cute, but we didn’t have the time.

tissue paper

pom poms


My best friend, Kelly Jolly, is a whiz at these cuties! She finally gave me the confidence to give them a try. I love hanging cute items in this dead space between my kitchen area and living room. Again, just cute eye candy that tied in with the color theme.

Martha Stewart provides the how-to better than I ever could here. I have two helpful hints while making these. One, you can use anything to tie in the center, it does not have to be floral wire. And two, when you separate the sheets, really separate them to create fullness. Don’t be shy, just don’t pull too hard or you’ll rip the tissue paper. 

front door wreath

IMG_4695 I used a grapevine wreath, wrapped around some cute ribbon, then added some leftover flowers from the napkin rings and chair backs with the cupcake toppers stuck on to the centers. I can remove the Mother’s Day phrases after and simply have a cute spring wreath afterward. IMG_4696

 pickle jar cuteness

IMG_4700I had been meaning to finish this adorable project for quite some time. I’ll post another blog with a DIY tutorial, but loved how the candy and white tied in the color them of the table! I put them on a shelf behind the table.

chicken croissants


How beautiful are these tasty little treats? Pillsbury croissants filled with a delicious chicken mixture! Find the recipe here.

family fun…

As if you need more pictures, but I can’t resist leaving you with a few very special photos taken on this momentous day. =) Hope you had a fantastic Mother’s Day!Cooper Welcome Mat A cute doormat ALWAYS brings a smile…who knew it would to my toddler, though? ;)Dedication PrayerOn stage during the prayer for our child dedication at church. Both kids behaved, phew!IMG_4705  The 3 moms being celebrated, myself, my mom seated beside me, and my mother-in-law behind. I’m so blessed by my family!IMG_4709 Cooper, enjoying the cupcakes!IMG_4706 IMG_4725

Trying to get pictures with each of my kids on each Mother’s Day. Can’t be happier than how these two turned out. Yay!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother’s Day Tin Cans


Happy mother’s day!

I’ll give a brief “tutorial”, if you will, for the tin cans. I used them as a gift for Mother’s Day, but you could use them for ANYTHING! The options are nearly limitless. Such a fun idea! Feel free to comment with ideas on how you would use it! I’d love to hear.

The talented gals over at Our Best Bites posted this idea originally for Teacher Appreciation. Feel free to check out all their pictures and instructions. Any other details I found to be helpful will be written in pink. But they are pretty thorough. Here’s what I came up with:

Supplies Needed:
canned fruit with tab tops, suggested size 7-8oz
candies for filling
tissue paper
hot glue gun
decorative paper
side can opener or safety can opener (optional)

Basic Instructions:

1. Remove labels, use a can opener to open the BOTTOM of the can, leaving a tiny bit attached. Rinse out and dry completely.

2. Fill can with desired goody of choice. I used Almond Rocha for my mom (6 fit in the cans) and Lindor truffles for my mother-in-law (I think 5-6 fit in and there MAY have been some leftovers for myself, of both kinds!)



3. Add a small wad of tissue paper on top of the candies (to catch the hot glue).

4. Squiggle a line of glue on top of the tissue paper, close the lid, then squeeze a layer of hot glue around the rim of the can to glue it closed. It won’t be pretty, but it will stay closed. IMG_4649 5. Cut a piece of decorative paper (for the fruit cans, I think they’re 7.5 oz.) 2 7/8” x 9 3/4”. Tape or glue around the can.

6. Tie a few matching ribbons on the tab (Believe it or not, I cut the ribbon to almost 7”. You may have to trim, but that makes it easy to tie on).

7. Add on the cute, ready to print labels provided by Our Best Bites. I printed mine on full sheet labels so I could just peel and stick instead of having to glue it on. Either way would work fine.

Here’s another, less cute picture of the finished product on our table:IMG_4689 I’ll soon be adding a blog post about our table decorations. Boy howdy did my mom and I have fun! Yeah, yeah….we decorated our own table for Mother’s Day. But, it was also in celebration of having my daughter dedicated in church. Plus, we just love doing it! =)