Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Smashed Penny Jewelry

penny bracelet

We love to get smashed pennies from all the fun places we visit.  
Its a great souvenir if you don't want to spend a lot, or junk up your house with nick knacks.

Smashed Pennies from Disneyland
Vacation Pennies
If you want to find a specific smashed penny you can check out the
They have a list of smashed pennies and their location.  Great idea to check it out before you go on vacation or that special place you want to collect pennies from.  
Click on locations  
Click on the State you are located in 
a list of locations of smashed pennies will appear
Some will have  pictures of the smashed penny stamps available.

First, you'll need to decided what kind of jewelry you want to make with your pennies, and count how many pennies you want to include.

Penny charm bracelet
Pennies linked together
If you just want to link the pennies together, you will only need enough pennies 
and jump rings to fit around your wrist or neck, and a clasp for the end. 
 This is also the quieter bracelet, because the pennies are stationary.

penny bracelet
Pennies charm bracelet style
  If you like the dangly penny style better, you'll need a chain as long as your wrist, a clasp for the end, and as many jump rings as pennies you want to include.  This style works best if you have a lot of pennies you want to include.  You can even make this a necklace.  The dangly style is a little loud to wear as a bracelet, because the pennies hit each other with movement.  It's not quite as loud as a necklace since the pennies don't move quit as much.

 To size a larger chain, measure chain out and use your pliers to open and remove extra rings.

 If your pennies are a little grungy, they might need a little shine.  We searched pinterest for the best methods to clean our pennies and we found this method worked the best click here.

shine a penny
1. Salt and Vinegar

penny bath
3. Add Penny

Shine a penny
2. Mix salt into the vinegar
We used 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of table salt.
The vinegar is 5% acetic acid this dissolves the copper oxide and
 the salt acts as a catalyst and speeds up the cleaning process. 

Now that your pennies are all shiny and beautiful, and you've decided what style bracelet/necklace you want to make, grab your drill, 1/16" drill bit, and two needle nose pliers or jewelry pliers.

Drill bit size 1/16"
Drill your penny over wood
 Once you've gotten your drill and bit, hold or clamp your pennies one at a time and drill where you want your hole.  We found most of the pennies had a lip on the top, so we drilled right under the lip.  You just want there to be enough space for your jump rings to hold on.  Over a piece of scrap wood drill your hole.
Repeat this step for all your pennies.

Drilled Smashed Penny
Drilled hole in penny just under the lip

Now, your ready to assemble your bracelet.  Grab your needle nose pliers or jewelry pliers, chain, jump rings, clasps, and your hole drilled pennies.

 Using your pliers, pull open one jump ring per penny and attach to bracelet/necklace.  

It's a good idea to start attaching the pennies in the middle of the chain and working out. 
Disneyland Smashed pennies
penny bracelet

You can convert a bracelet into a necklace.  Simply attach another chain or necklace hooking the clasp of the necklace to the end ring of the bracelet and the clasp of the bracelet to the end ring of the necklace.  The best of both worlds, wear it sometimes as a bracelet and sometimes as a necklace.

If you have a favorite penny you can wear it by itself, or add beads.

I made one that is only from our big trip to California and another that is one penny collected from many different locations like a real charm bracelet,

have fun and get creative!

If you liked this post you might also like:

Kids Summer Bucket List

Monday, August 17, 2015

Quinoa and Rice

My girls like the taste of Quinoa, but the size and texture feels weird to them.  So, we add it to the rice for a more rice-like texture.  If you want them to only eat Quinoa, this is a good way to slowly transition from rice.

We prefer Jasmine Rice and Red Quinoa
1 1/2 Cups Jasmine Rice or other Rice
1/2 Red Quinoa or White

Boil 4 Cups of water, add Jasmine Rice and Quinoa
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 min.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.
Fluff with fork and enjoy!


Italian Chicken

slow cooker chicken

This is one of those recipes, that has been passed around so many times, that everyone that lives in my State just knows how to make it by memory, from their childhood.  It is super easy, rich, and creamy.  A real comfort food.

Italian Chicken

3-5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or 9-15 Chicken Tenders
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (any brand)
1 Packet Dry Italian Salad Dressing
1 8oz. Cream Cheese or 1/3 fat Cream Cheese
1/2-1 Cup Water

Some people add a little butter, I personally don't think it needs it. 

Additional Ingredients:
4 Cups Cooked Rice, Noodles, or Quinoa
(We like a 3/4 rice to 1/4 quinoa mix, to help with the texture of the quinoa)
Rolls or Bread

I always spray my 4 qt slow cooker, to help with clean up.

I usually put the chicken on the bottom to prevent the sauce from burning to it.
I ended up using my 6 qt. Slow Cooker, but recommend a 4 qt.  (If you use a larger slow cooker it will decrease cook time.)

Add remaining ingredients.  Some people hold off on the cream cheese until the last 30 mins., but I just throw it in at the beginning.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours 

After cooking, if you went with chicken breasts, remove chicken. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces or shred chicken.

easy shredded chicken

The fastest and easiest way to shred chicken is in a stand-up mixer.

After the chicken is how you like it, return to the sauce and stir.  At this point you can serve it or I like to let it cook about 20 mins. longer.  The sauce just seems creamier and less lumpy when I do this.

slow cooker chicken

Serve over Rice, Noodles, or Quinoa

We like ours over a 3/4 Jasmine Rice and 1/4 Red Quinoa mix.
My kids like to taste of Quinoa, but don't like the texture and size.

1 1/2 Cups Jasmine Rice or other Rice
1/2 Red Quinoa or White

Boil 4 Cups of water, add Jasmine Rice and Quinoa
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 min.
Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.
Fluff with fork and enjoy!

  You can hardly even feel or taste the difference from just plain rice.

Serve it up and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Forbidden Chicken

Crock Pot Forbidden Chicken

This chicken dish is named after the rich black Forbidden Rice it is paired with.

Forbidden Chicken Slow Cooker

3 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 can of Rotel at your preferred spicy level or 2 cups salsa
1-2 4oz. can green chilies
1 can of your favorite black, kidney or pinto beans (drained)
 1 can or 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
 4-8 oz. water
 1-2 tsp. garlic
2 TB chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste

4 cups cooked Forbidden rice
Cheese to top
Tortilla Chips

Garnish Optional Choices if desired:
Green Onions
Sour Cream
Fresh Diced Tomatoes 

easy crock pot clean up

I always spray my slow cooker with cooking spray for easier cleanup, but it's optional.  Place chicken on bottom of slow cooker

rinse beans

I always rinse my beans in a colander to make sure they are good and rinsed.

Put all ingredients in crock pot and stir them together.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

After cooking, remove and shred your chicken.   The easiest and fastest method I've found to shred chicken is in my stand up mixer.  The finer you want your chicken shredded the longer you'll want to mix it.  I personally like mine a little chunky, so I check it often during mixing.
Shredded Chicken

Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and stir.
crock pot chicken

Top with cheese and serve over rice, bread, noodles or in a tortilla shell (but drain fluid if you choose a tortilla shell).
Black rice

We like ours over Forbidden Rice (AKA Black Rice), but any rice will do.  If you've never tried Forbidden Rice, it tastes like brown rice, but is full of antioxidants and fiber. To learn more click here We found ours in the bulk bins of our local grocery store.  It is cooked the same as any other rice 2 cups of water to every one cup of 
rice, boil for 20 min., let sit for 5 min. fluff with fork and enjoy.

We like to scoop it up with tortilla chips.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Forbidden Rice

I wanted to share my newest grocery store super-food find ~ Forbidden Rice

Black Rice

Forbidden Rice (AKA Black Rice or Purple Rice).  If you've never tried Forbidden Rice, to me it tasted comparable to brown rice, but is full of antioxidants and fiber.  

I saw it in the bulk bin section of my local grocery store.  I thought to myself with that intense color it must be good for you, and it wasn't too badly priced.  I think I paid $2.33 lb. So, I bought it and immediately looked it up online when I got home. I found it on several websites which all claimed it to be a real super-food. To learn more click here  

It is cooked the same as any other rice: 2 cups of water to every one cup of rice, let come to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 min., let sit for 5 min. fluff with fork and enjoy.

Pony Tail Hair Cut

 cut your own long hair

While looking online for new hair cut ideas I came across this blog.  The girl had put her hair in a pony tail to cut it.  It looked amazing!  If you're gonna try it, definitely check out her blog for complete instructions.  I always hate to cut my hair, very few stylists have ever cut it the way I wanted.  Then, they charged me an arm and leg, because I have long hair.  I have been debating on cutting my hair short in an A-line, like my girls did, and donating or giving it more layers.  My hair happens to be freakishly long right now, so I decided why not try it.  I could always cut it off if I don't like it. 

*Cut your hair at your own risk. You might like it or you might really make your hair hideous.  Make sure you are ok with the risk if you decide to cut your hair.  Some people have awesome results,  but there are also some who will have to cut tons off and have it professionally fixed.  Use caution with scissors not to cut yourself. 

My hair before the ponytail haircut


Make sure you get a good ponytail, brushed and smooth.

I would also make sure that when you flip your hair, it is smooth and in place before cutting. You want your ponytail even on both sides.

I'm only cutting off 1"-2" to try it,
you must decide for yourself how much of a risk you're willing to take.  If you're not 100% sure you want to do this,  don't!

 "Am I really going to cut my own hair?"

 No turning back now!

 "Does it look straight to you?"

"OK, I think I got it!"

"Not bad if I do say so myself."
Totally even on both sides.

 Close up of the ends, with no styling!
It's hard to tell in the pictures, but it kind of goes 
into a V shaped point at the bottom, which I love.

I love it, but I think I need to go more dramatic 
and put the ponytail higher for shorter layers on top.

It worked great for me, but I have really long hair and if I messed it up and had to fix it, I'd still have really long hair.  So that's something you'd need to decide for yourself.

Some people love it, some people hate it.  
I personally hate getting my hair cut by others, so I was willing to risk it.

I'd love to see how yours turned out, if you braved it.

Update Second Haircut:

Ok, I got a little braver and moved the pony tail higher, for a second haircut.  Love the v-shape at the bottom. I just quickly curled the ends with a curling iron.  I actually like the higher cut better.  I cut it over a garbage can.  Took 1 minute to get ponytail right and cut it, with no cleanup or itchy hairs.