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4 Perfect Dishes For Your Next Picnic

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It’s always a dilemma of “What do I cook?” – whether your summer includes family cookouts, neighborhood block parties, church potlucks, company barbecues, pool parties, or a family dinner at the park.

These simple ideas will resolve that resounding questions of “What do I bring?” Try one idea, or experiment with all of them! The results will be the same: no more guessing what to prepare, how to pack it up, or if it’s good picnic food.

1 – Foil-wrapped Pork Tenderloin

This main dish is bullet proof! You can make an herbed pork tenderloin for a fancier event, like a company barbecue. Try this one marinated in Dale’s steak seasoning for your neighborhood block party. You can’t go wrong with pork tenderloin combined with apples and onions either. 

Why pork tenderloin? Because you can cook the meat to be just slightly pink inside, and then wrap it up in the foil pouch to steam, trap the juices, and absorb even more flavor. Instead of sitting it on the kitchen counter to steam, you can bring that foil pouch in the car while you drive to your picnic.

  1. Prepare a pork tenderloin on the grill, in your oven, in a crockpot, or in an instapot. 
  2. While the pork tenderloin is cooking, line 3 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil in a baking dish.
  3. Once the pork tenderloin is finished cooking, transfer it to the foil. Add a few spoonfuls of the juice to the foil as well.
  4. Tent the foil over the pork tenderloin, and tightly roll the edges together to form a seal.
  5. Travel to your picnic with the meat wrapped in foil. When it’s time to serve, carefully open the foil pouch and slice into 1-2 inch thick slices.

2 – Towel-covered Potato Wedges

Kids of all ages love french fries, so these homemade potato wedges are a crowd pleaser for birthday bashes and pool parties. Plus, you can season these a million different ways.

If you’re making more than one batch of potatoes, slice them in different ways to keep them separated. For example, the plain salt and pepper ones can be sliced like wedges, Provencal ones can look like round discs, while the cajun potatoes could be sliced like thin fries.

3 – Hot or Cold Skinny Spinach Dip

Not sure if you’ll be inside or outside at this event? Wondering if you were supposed to bring a main plate or a side dish (or anything at all)? Concerned that people have food allergies? Then this is the best picnic food to make!

It’s fast to prepare (win for a busy Mama). It can be served hot or cold (and taste delicious either way). It’s mostly allergy-friendly (no gluten, eggs, soy, or food dyes).

Skinny Spinach Dip

12 oz bag of frozen spinach, thawed
¾ cup Greek yogurt, plain
2 cloves garlic, minced
? cup mozzarella cheese, shredded or roughly chopped
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Salt to taste
Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Using a towel or paper towels, ring out all excess water from the spinach.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until fully mixed, then evenly spread out the mixture in the baking dish.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and slightly brown.
  5. Serve hot or cold with chips, crackers, or sliced veggies.

4 – Frozen Watermelon

When the weather is hot, nothing could be more refreshing than watermelon…although an alcoholic beverage or ice cream cone come close! But watermelon is the perfect thing for a family picnic or pool party or a simple dinner in the backyard.

The key is that the watermelon must be ice cold. And to make that happen, you can slice the watermelon and then freeze it. Yep, you can freeze watermelon! 

It’s a tasty frozen treat if you enjoy it fresh out of the freezer, but it will still be quite cold even if it’s thawed (like while you’re driving to the company party or waiting for the meal to be served at your neighborhood block party).

Slice the watermelon with the rind attached for easier eating. Classic triangles work, but so do sticks.

No more questioning “What do I bring?”

Now you have 4 go-to picnic options, which means you never have to show up empty handed or spend the brain power considering what to bring and how to safely transport it there! 

DIY All-Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

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DIY all natural toilet bowl green cleaner

Most people assume that their toilet has more germs than anywhere else in their home. Yes, that’s where you do your business, which can get messy when you’re potty training kids or fighting the inevitable winter stomach bug. It looks dirty every few days, and possibly gets cleaned more frequently than just about anything else in your home.

But it’s actually not the germ-iest spot in your house. There are plenty of things in our home that carry massive amounts of germs…like your cutting board, washer, television remote, and refrigerator drawers. Recent research has even determined that cell phones are 7 times dirtier than toilet seats…Gross! 

Side note – grab a wipe and clean off your phone! 

Common household cleaners

Popular brands of bathroom cleaners have been around for years. The bubbly spray that makes your counter tops shine, the creamy white and gritty liquid that brightens your tub by at least one shade of white, and the blue gel that removes all the gunk from your toilet.

Those cleaners may clean, but they may also harm you and your family in the process. Did you know that commercial cleaners you purchase from mega stores (like Walmart, Target, and the grocery store) actually contain toxic ingredients?

Windex is one of the worst, but toilet bowl cleaners aren’t much better. They utilize such harsh, strong chemicals to let you remove the grime without any elbow grease. But in order to reduce your hard work, they need to contain poisonous ingredients.

But it seems like most Mamas will put in a slight bit of effort if it means they don’t bring toxic chemicals in their home. And when it’s time to to train your children how to clean house (because one day they will be an independent adult), you don’t want to knowingly hand your child a bottle of harmful substances.

Is it realistic to switch from toxic to green cleaners?

Maybe you’re thinking, “But I can’t afford all of these fancy organic cleaners that cost twice as much!” Don’t worry – it’s actually significantly cheaper to make your own household cleaners! And only a few basic ingredients are required. 

Once you purchase the essentials, you can make anything: toilet bowl cleaner, all-purpose countertop spray, floor cleaner, fruit and veggie cleaner, etc. You can even begin to craft all-natural beauty products like hand soap or face toner.

The basic ingredients for your home cleaning supply

Want to get started? Start with these essential ingredients:

  1. White vinegar. This can be bought in bulk sizes and is a handy cleaner by itself. But it here.
  2. Castile soap. This ultra-concentrated soap can be diluted into almost anything else. The bottle even claims it 18+ numerous uses. Buy it here. P.S. It comes in so many scents, so pick your favorite! Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, citrus, etc. 
  3. Essential oils. If nothing else, at least purchase tea tree oil which is antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. Essentially, it’s the best household essential oil for cleaning! But lemon, orange, lavender, and peppermint are also staple oils to stock in your collection. Get tea tree oil here.
  4. Baking soda. When things need a bit of scrubbing or an extra cleaning kick, baking soda is the go-to ingredient. Get it here.

Here’s the cost analysis:

Vinegar: $3.99, 64 fl oz
Castile soap: $29.99, 64 oz
Tea Tree Oil: $21.95, 15 mL
Total: $55.93

With that amount, you can make approximately 32 toilet bowl cleaners with the vinegar and castile soap, but only 12 batches with the tea tree oil…but when you buy a second bottle of tea tree oil, you can produce 32 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner at only $2.43/bottle. That’s a steal!

And we didn’t even mention all of the other green cleaners and beauty products that you can make using those exact same ingredients…more on those at the end of the article!

DIY All-Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Cleaning toilets is necessary but kinda gross. This homemade toilet bowl cleaner at least removes all of the toxic chemicals from your home and plumbing, plus avoids harmful chemicals from touching your skin or being inhaled as you clean.

¼ cup vinegar
25 drops tea tree oil
¼ cup castile soap (2 oz)
Optional: 15 drops of lemon or orange
Water
Spray bottle, or empty toilet cleaning bottle

  1. First, add the vinegar and tea tree oil (and optional other oils) to the empty bottle.
  2. Next add the water, leaving room for the castile soap. (If you add the soap first, you’ll end up with bubbles in your bottle!)
  3. Finally, add the castile soap. If needed, slowly add more water to fill the bottle.
  4. Shake well to combine.

To use:

  1. Thoroughly spray the inside of the toilet bowl with the cleaner. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. (The longer it sits, the better it cleans!) Wipe up your vanity, sink, mirror, and shower while you wait.
  2. Using a toilet bowl wand or rag, clean the inside of the toilet bowl, concentrating under the rim and along the water line. If desired, add a few sprinkles of baking soda for built up grime.
  3. Flush the bowl to rinse away the toilet bowl cleaner.

Happy non-toxic toilet cleaning!

Curious to try other homemade cleaners? Try these all-natural DIY recipes!

Try out these recipes for homemade beauty products that use the same ingredients!

7 Practical And Professional Back-To-School Outfit Ideas For Teachers

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Images from Get Your Pretty On (top left), Chaylor & Mads (top right), Living in Yellow (bottom left), and Thrifty Wife Happy Life (bottom right).

Teachers work long hours in the back-to-school season setting up their room, attending training sessions, meeting parents, getting to know students, and doing what they love – teaching! 

During the first month of school, it’s important to look professional yet have a practical wardrobe. Plus, the days are still warm yet the cool mornings and late evenings are beginning to feel like Fall. 

Here are 7 practical and professional back-to-school outfit ideas for teachers!

1 – Skinny pants, jean shirt, and flats

Image from Chaylor & Mads

You’ll be stylish and comfortable in this go-to outfit! Pick a pair of skinny pants in any color that you like! Peach and pink are perfect for the end of summer, while orange or burgundy say, “Hello Fall!” 

Pair it with a fitted blue jean shirt. This is perfect for the cold air conditioning or cool weather. Top it off with your favorite pair of comfy flats. A chunky necklace or statement earrings look great with this as well!

2 – Dark pants and a blazer

Image from Get Your Pretty On

If you really want to look like an executive professor, opt for this combination. Dark pants (either skinny jeans, slim trousers, or dress pants) combined with a basic tee, layered with a blazer. 

Don’t be afraid to pick out a funky pattern or textured jacket. It will look fabulous next to the simple mix of plain pants and a generic t-shirt.

3 – Striped dress, cardigan, tall boots

Image from Thrifty Wife Happy Life

Do you prefer teaching in a dress? Then you need a classic striped dress! Wear it alone, or with a cardigan, or layered under a jacket. Look good with or without leggings. Style your striped dress with flats, booties or (my favorite) tall boots. Don’t hesitate to put on a large cuff bracelet or a fun bandana in your hair either.

This striped dress works in every season and will soon become the most multifunctional piece of your teaching wardrobe! 

4 – Sweater dress, leggings, and flats

Image from Living in Yellow

In addition to a striped dress, every teacher needs a sweater dress. These keep you toasty on a cool day, feel soft and similar to sweatpants, yet looks like a professional outfit. Pick a sweater dress in a neutral color that can match the rainbow of leggings. As always, match with your favorite flats or a casual pair of booties.

5 – Jeans, basic tee, cardigan, booties

Image from Living in Yellow

Do you get casual Friday? Can you wear jeans one day per week? Here is your go-to back-to-school teacher outfit with blue jeans! 

Pull on your favorite pair of blue jeans, match with a basic tee (in any fit), pair with a classic cardigan, and throw on some booties. The simplicity and layers of this outfit will keep you trendy and comfy.

6 – Jean shirt and a vest

Image from Get Your Pretty On

If you don’t get a casual day for blue jeans, try this outfit. It feels relaxed yet looks semi-professional. 

Add a jean shirt to slim pants in any color. Then throw on a vest! It can be patterned or plain, trim or puffy, neutral or a statement piece! You’ll stay warm, look nice, and feel like you’re wrapped in a blanket all day.

7 – Printed Teacher Shirts

Kids love those fun teachers…become a cool teacher by wearing a teacher-appropriate and student-friendly printed shirt! Wear them around your students, grab some for your entire team, or pick a certain day for all of your co-teachers to style similar outfits! Your students will be beside themselves with giggles and joy.

Here are a few inspiring phrases!

Elementary school:

Middle and high school:

All ages:

Get comfy and professional!

Teachers, you can blend the best of both worlds: style and comfort. Browse your closet to see what existing pieces already exist in your wardrobe so you can compile a few of these teacher-approved outfits!

Don’t forget to buy new wardrobe pieces from our MomFabulous shop!

Are you reading this during the winter semester? You may also like: January, February, March, April, or Mid-Winter outfit ideas. Plus what to wear any day of the month!

5 Football-Shaped Foods To Serve On Game Day

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Images from here, here, and here. They are also linked below in the text.

Watching an exciting football game with friends and family may be one of the best ways to spend a fall afternoon. Everyone’s spirits are high as the root for their favorite team and celebrate epic victories. Oh, and it’s the perfect time to munch on tasty food!

It takes too much time to grill out or prepare a real meal while you’re trying to watch football. Which is why most families offer an assortment of heavy appetizers to enjoy throughout the entire game.

Take your snacks to the next level! The next time you host a football watch party, prepare these five football shaped snacks that root for your team to win!

#1: 7 layer dip designed like a football field

Who doesn’t like a hearty dip? This classic 7 layer dip boasts beans and guacamole to keep bellies full, plus salsa, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, and olives or green onions. But this isn’t a typical 7-layer dip…this one is shaped like a football field! Serve it with salty tortilla chips for a satisfying dip that the whole crowd will enjoy!

Source: https://www.momendeavors.com
  1. In a rectangular dish, layer the beans (refried, pinto, or black), then sour cream, then salsa, then tomatoes, then cheese, then the olives or green onions, and lastly the guacamole.
  2. Decorate the green “football field” with field lines and end zones using the sour cream. Tip: place a spoonful of sour cream into the corner of a sandwich sized zippered bag. Snip off the edge to pipe the sour cream as lines and numbers on the field. 

#2: Football shaped cheese ball

Football games are the perfect situation for finger foods worth munching on all afternoon – like a cheese ball! But this isn’t your typical cheese ball. Shape this one into an oblong oval, just like a football. Top with pulverized brown nuts to resemble the brown leather, and add a few slices of mozzarella cheese for the laces. Enjoy with crackers, tortilla chips, or pretzels – and a football game on television!

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/valerie-bertinelli/football-cheeseball-with-herbed-crackers-3878486
Source: https://www.foodnetwork.com/
  1. Using an electric mixer, combine 18oz of room temperature cream cheese with 12oz cheddar cheese, 2 tsp grated onion, 2 tsp chopped garlic, and 4 tsp worcestershire.
  2. Refrigerate until firm, and then shape into a football.
  3. Roll the football in chopped pecans (or nut of your choice).
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. 
  5. Remove from the fridge 1-2 hours before serving to soften.

#3: Pigs-in-a-blanket footballs 

Have you caught onto the theme of football shaped foods? If so, you will love these adorable mini football pigs-in-a-blanket! Follow the standard recipe of wrapping mini sausages into crescent rolls. After they are baked, top each one with stripes of mustard to depict the laces on a football

pigs in a blanket footballs
Source: https://www.pillsbury.com
  1. Wrap mini sausages (fully cooked) into crescent rolls. Place into the pan seam-side down.
  2. Bake according to the crescent roll package directions.
  3. Once baked, top each pig-in-a-blanket with mustard to resemble football laces. Draw a line down the center, and 4 perpendicular lines across the center line.

#4: Cracker with cheese and sausage (and a football flag on top!)

When in doubt, crackers and cheese and sausage are a foolproof snack to serve. Top a buttery cracker with freshly sliced cheese and a round of sausage. To stay in the football festive mood, top each one with a toothpick flag of your favorite team!

  1. Layer cheese and sausage on top of a cracker.
  2. Place a flag toothpick through the sausage and cheese.
  3. To make a personalized flag toothpick, attach washi tape to the flat end of a toothpick and draw your team’s logo. Alternative option: print of mini logos for your favorite football team, and tape around a toothpick as a flag.

#5: Hot dogs with ketchup/mustard stripes 

Hosting a football watch party with other families? Want something that you know all of the kiddos will eat? Try these hot dogs. Prep hot dogs and place them into a bun, then draw football laces on each using ketchup or mustard!

  1. Cook hot dog according to the package instructions.
  2. Lay a hot dog in each bun.
  3. Top each hot dog with a strip of ketchup or mustard, and perpendicular stripes to look like football laces.

Which football-shaped foods will you try first?

Which game day recipe will you try first on your game day menu? The hot dogs and cheese dip are the easiest to make, but the 7-layer dip and pigs in a blanket are sure to make your guests smile. And the football flag craft is the cutest way to support your favorite team!

P.S. You may also like these 8 winning super bowl appetizers, or these Game Day party bags and decor!

6 Back-To-School Organization Tips For Mom

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New schedules and routines are part of the back-to-school package. This means waking up earlier, streamlining morning routines, planning a lunch menu, and establishing time for homework in the evenings. 

Mama, this can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve identified the 6 most common issues Moms face during the back-to-school season, and teach you the best solutions to stay organized!

Backpack station

Problem: Backpacks being left all over the house

Solution: Backpack station

Establish a specific spot in your home that will be backpack central. This is where you kids drop their backpacks on their way in the door, and where they keep their backpacks on the weekends, and where they pick them up as they head out in the mornings. It’s a good idea to keep their lunchbox here as well – just keep the food and freezer packs elsewhere.

This eliminates the questions of, “Have you seen my backpack?” or “Do you know where my school stuff is?”

Plus, it’s easy for you to look at papers sent home, things that need to be signed, or work that you need to check.

Lunch station and perpetual calendar

Problem: you don’t know what to pack for lunch

Solution: lunch station and perpetual lunch calendar

Let me guess…you are running out of lunch ideas? Your kids aren’t eating what you pack? You’re at a loss when it comes to packing lunch boxes? #metoo

Try a lunch station. This is where you keep baskets or bins on lunch items in your fridge and pantry. For example, one bin in the fridge has fruit and another bin has refrigerated items (like applesauce or yogurt). Perhaps you have a bin in the pantry for snacks (chips, crackers, pretzels, etc.) and another one for sweets (cookies, candy, etc.) When it’s time to make lunch, have you child pick one thing from each bin: a fruit, a refrigerated item, a snack, and a treat. 

What about the main lunchbox item? I’m glad you asked! Create a perpetual calendar of lunch ideas. This is a calendar that has every lunch item your child likes, and you simply rotate through it. If your list has 17 items, you make items: 

  • 1-5 during week 1 of the month
  • 6-10 on week 2
  • 11-15 on week 3
  • 15-17 and 1-2 on week 4, 
  • then 3- 7 on the following week
  • Etc.

Keep this posted on your fridge so you can gradually work through the list and add appropriate items to your weekly grocery list. Don’t forget to place these items in a fridge bin so you child can grab one and add it to their lunch box!

Overall, their balanced lunch will have:

  • 1 main item
  • 1 fruit
  • 1 refrigerated item
  • 1 snack
  • 1 treat

Mama does the planning and shopping, but you child earns the independence to select which items they want each day. 

Bonus: create a similar station for breakfast items to help your mornings go smoothly!

Read more: 6 healthy back-to-school luncbox ideas, 12 healthy school lunches your kids won’t hate, an effective lunch packing station

Homework station

Problem: kids don’t have a designated spot for homework

Solution: homework station

Keep your family organized with a uniform homework station.

This should be where you keep a caddy, cart, or box of necessary school supplies. Try to include everything that your child could possibly need for homework, thus eliminating their unmotivated excuses about not having what they need. Include: extra pencils, pens, erasers, markers/crayons/colored pencils, glue, tape, scissors, ruler, paper clips, stapler, hole punch, extra paper, folders, etc.

Bonus: Create a private homework station that reduces distractions by using a tri-fold poster board! You can prop this up on the kitchen table, a desk, or even on the floor. This keeps distractions out of sight, and can even be a tool for clipping on a number line, alphabet strip, multiplication table, periodic table, etc.

Outfit station

Problem: what do I wear to school today?

Solution: outfit station

Check the weather on Sunday, and then pick out outfits with your child for every day of the week. Place these is a pile with Monday on top and Friday on bottom, or in a closet organizer, or in designated bags that you’ve labeled with the days of the week. 

This is perfect for the days your child has gym class, a sports practice, picture day, or a special event. Your kid will be grateful to never again forget their gym clothes or to not have a clean outfit for sports practice!

Each day should include:

  • Bottoms
  • Top
  • Sweater/sweatshirt, if needed
  • Socks and underwear
  • Shoes
  • Accessories: hat, gloves, scarf, hair accessories, jewelry, etc.
  • Optional: gym clothes or sports clothes

Here are some helpful motivations for the first day of school or high school appropriate fashions.

Bathroom station

Problem: it takes my child too long to get ready in the morning

Solution: bathroom station

Baskets and bins are one of the best organizing tools. You’ve already used them in your fridge and pantry for your lunch station, and you probably used them in your child’s outfit station too. Now it’s time to add them to the bathroom.

Assign each child a basket. This will have every essential item them need to prepare for a school day. 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush and accessories (gel, comb, hair spray, barrettes, clips, etc.)
  • Deodorant
  • Wash cloth
  • Hand lotion

Optional: include a small digital timer that your child can start when they enter the bathroom and leave on the counter while they get ready. This is a great tool for helping kids be aware of deadlines and to be more efficient with their time.

File folder station

Problem: all of my kid’s school papers are unorganized.

Solution: file folder station

The school year comes with an abundance of papers. How’s a Mama to keep them organized? With a handy file folder station!

Purchase a file folder box and hanging folders for each of your children. Label one folder for this school year’s essentials, one for this school year’s memories, and one for papers to file.

For example, I have a box for my daughter Jana. There are folders labeled kindergarten essentials, first grade essentials…twelfth grade essentials.

I also have a folder for kindergarten memories, first grade memories…twelfth grade memories.

Lastly, I have a “to file” folder. 

The “Essentials” folders contain health records and important documents, such as the soccer calendar or notes received from her teacher. The “Memories” folder contain the schoolwork and artwork that you want to keep for the year. At the end of each school year, you can decide which items to keep or toss.

And of course the “to file” folder is for that day when you kid brings home a book of loose papers and you don’t want to sort through it right away. Store it here so those loose papers have a home, and you can find them at a later date.

Looking for more organization tips for school papers?

Stay organized

These 6 stations will help you stay organized, allow for smoother mornings, make afternoon routines easier, and homework time a breeze. Get started with these simple organization tips so you can be a supportive Mama during the back-to-school season of change!

Don’t forget to engage your kids in the midst of transition (whether it’s an organized change or a chaotic shift) with after school questions better than, “How was your day?”

 

5 Tips to Creating a Lunch Packing Station That Saves You Timehttps://momfabulous.com/5-tips-to-creating-a-lunch-packing-station-that-saves-you-time/

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