The Life of Jennifer Dawn: August 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Homemade Treats for Fall & Weekly Link Party

Can you believe that tomorrow is the first day of September? It's the month that ushers in one of my favorite times of year--fall. This season always puts me in the mood to whip up some delicious treats for my family. Apple pies, pumpkin muffins, homemade bread backing in the oven... Yes, please! Here are seven delicious recipes bursting with the tastes of the season. They're sure to have you craving fall!
1. Apple Pie Bites / Lolly Jane Blog
These look scrumptious! For these easy-to-make bites, the apple serves as it's own container. You aren't going to want to miss clicking over to see this recipe!

2. Chess Squares / The Country Chic Cottage
These ooey gooey dessert bars look delicious! And they only require five ingredients! How's that for simple and delicious?!

3. Chocolate Chip Banana Bread / Lou Lou Girls
During the cool months of fall, I love heating the over up and making fresh bread. This chocolate chip banana bread looks like a delicious treat to try this season!

4. Apple Cobbler / The Gracious Wife
Who doesn't love cobbler? This easy version filled with apples looks amazing! It's sure to become a family favorite!

5. Pumpkin Cornbread Mug Cake / Strength & Sunshine
Here's a mug cake you don't need to feel guilty eating. It's a tasty twist on cornbread that's both sweet and healthy!

6. Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream / Simply Stacie
Toasted marshmallows bring to mind s'mores and campfires. This Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream would be the perfect treat to enjoy on those crisp, cool fall nights spent around the fire.

7. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins / The Life of Jennifer Dawn (Right here!)
Moist, delicious, and filled with cream cheese, these muffins are perfect for a fall party or even brunch with the kids!
Now it's time for...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Easy Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

It's that time of year again! Pumpkin everything is hitting the scene! Pumpkin pies! Pumpkin spice lattes! Oh, and pumpkin muffins!
Years ago, I started making these scrumptious pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling. And every year they continue to a HUGE hit with my family! Maybe they'll even be one of those recipes my kids continue making when they're grown because they remind them of home and the memories of our fall seasons together. Maybe...

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Hayrides, visits to the pumpkin patch, corn mazes, bright colored leaves, and fall treats abound during these crisp, cool months. That includes pumpkin treats like these delicious pumpkin cream cheese muffins! Yes, especially pumpkin muffins!

I have a confession though. These pumpkin muffins are only partly made from scratch. I "doctor up" a cake mix with a few simple ingredients and BAM--moist and delicious pumpkin muffins! These muffins are super quick and easy to prepare, but they'll look and tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen baking them. The reality is that they can be made in minutes and require only a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen.

The recipe lends itself to a few variations. You can follow the directions below to whip up cream cheese filling for the muffins. You can also leave them plain because they are just as delicious without the filling. In fact, I make a batch without the cream cheese so my youngest son who has a dairy allergy can enjoy some too. Ready to whip up a batch and try them for yourself? Here's how...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Old-Fashioned Recipes and Crafts & Weekly Link Party

I love old-fashioned recipes and crafts! They very fact that they are time-honored proves how wonderful they are. The timeless recipes and crafts being featured this week remind me of simpler times when everything was made by hand--from scratch. From soap making to candy making, canning to quilting, you're sure to find a recipe or craft below that will bring out feelings of nostalgia.

1. Peach Pie Recipe / The Country Chic Cottage
Yum! Making homemade pies is a pastime that never gets old. In this post, Angie shows us how to can our own pie filling. The canned fillings or the pie itself would both make an excellent gift for a neighbor or friend!

2. Honey Oatmeal Goat's Milk Soap / Simply Stacie
Soap making dates back to ancient times with evidence that the Babylonians were making soap around 2800 BC. How's that for an old-fashioned craft?! This all-natural recipe will have your skin looking soft, bright, and new! The best part is that it only takes three ingredients to make.

3. Gingham Baby Quilt / Gluesticks
What a perfect baby gift! I love the simplicity of this gingham quilt of blue and gold!

4. DIY Alphabet Blocks / Homespun Engineer
Here's a fun twist on a classic toy! Use this tutorial to make your own ABC blocks, add Velcro, and let the spelling begin! Kids will have a blast making words with the simple blocks.

5. Homemade Butter / Teach Mama
Churning your own butter used to be a common household chore. Now you can make your own for fun! This is a great activity to get the kids involved with too!

6. Homemade Caramel Candy / The Life of Jennifer Dawn (Right here!)
Here's a simple version to the melt-in-your-mouth, buttery goodness of soft caramel candies!

7. Peanut Butter Pinwheels / The Life of Jennifer Dawn (Right here!)
Enjoy my great grandmother's recipe for old-fashioned peanut butter pinwheels. It's a treat my family has enjoyed for generations.

Now it's time for...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School Crafts for Teen Girls & Weekly Link Party

Maybe it's just the teacher in me, but "Back to School" time is one of my favorite times of year. There is a wonderful feeling of newness--a fresh start! I always get a bit giddy about the start of school, new school supplies, and freshly sharpened pencils. By the end of the year, those pencils will be worn down nubs but right now they are new and sharp. Oh, and let me tell you! After the summer we've had, my family could certainly use some things to get excited about. That's a story for another day though.

Today we're talking about the beginning of a new school year. If you have a tween or teen girl, she is going to LOVE these fun crafts! With your help, even a younger girl would be able to make and enjoy these! I know my daughter would love them. For this week's link party, I'm sharing Five Fun Crafts for Back to School! Grab your daughter, get comfy, and have a look!

1. Emoji Magnets / Homespun Engineer
What teen wouldn't love an emoji craft?! These would be perfect on a locker or other magnetic surface to pin up reminder notes.

2. Dry Erase Lap Desk / Old Time Pottery
I love how functional this is! And that fabric is so colorful and fun!

3. Paper Pencils / White House Crafts
These "Back to School" Paper Pencils are super cute and easy to make. They'd be perfect as labels for binders and books. Locker decorations even!

4. DIY Jewelry Book / The Lost Apron
How cute is this?! Ana turned a photo album into handy storage for jewelry. It's the perfect size to sit out on a desk or vanity.

5. Button Bookmarks / The Life of Jennifer Dawn (Right here!)
These adorable bookmarks are perfect for marking your place in that book you're reading. They are super simple to make too! You'll have several made in minutes. That means they'll be plenty to share with friends.

Now it's time for...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

30+ Fall Leaf Crafts

Fall is one of my favorite times of year! The leaves always turn such brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and gold as the season progresses. Living here in the Great Smoky Mountains is truly one of the most beautiful places to enjoy the season!

I also love crafting during the fall months. Who am I kidding?! I love crafting during any season. But as the air turns crisp and the season begins to change, it especially puts me in the mood to do something creative. Combining my love of all things crafty and fall leaves, I've pulled together a compilation of Fall Leaf Crafts for you to enjoy.
Below you'll find over 30 crafts inspired by the colorful leaves of Autumn. There are ideas for the whole family to enjoy. From leaf activities for kids to crafty creations for decorating your home, you're sure to find at least one creative project to try this fall. Oh, and don't forget to stick around to the very end of this post for a special surprise!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Coca-Cola Cupcakes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeHosting #CollectiveBias

When I was a little girl, we lived in Atlanta--headquarters to Coca-Cola™. Field trips to the Coca-Cola Factory, Coca-Cola floats on the Fourth of July, and icy, cold Coca-Cola drinks at backyard barbecues and tailgate events were just commonplace. There was also my mom's scrumptious recipe for old-fashioned Coca-Cola Cake. What was it about that refreshing beverage that made her chocolate cake so moist and delicious! Yes, that's right! Coca-Cola was an ingredient right in the cake.

With a few modifications, I was able to turn the recipe for Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake into Coca-Cola cupcakes. Just like my mom's cake, they are so tasty and incredibly moist. You won't be able to eat just one!
During football season, we make it to a few games, but we usually tailgate at home with family and a simple spread of snacks, treats, and soft drinks. These Coca-Cola cupcakes are the perfect treat to enjoy for game day. With this ooey gooey treat, a classic chip like Wise Potato Chips, and a few soft drinks like Sprite and Coca-Cola, of course, you can pull together a simple tailgate event to enjoy the BIG game with family and friends at home. Keep reading for the recipe to these scrumptious Coca-Cola cupcakes!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Smoothie Bowl Recipe That's Healthy for the Kids and Their School!

It's back to school time! Although we had our first day of co-op on Monday, we are waiting until next week to officially kick off a full week of school. That's the beauty of homeschool--getting to choose your own schedule. Next week we dive into another year though!
As we end the summer and prepare for our 2016-2017 homeschool year, we've been stocking up on back to school essentials including art supplies, curriculum, notebooks, pencils, and even food items for meals and snacks. I've gotten most of our grocery essentials from Walmart--including cereal and easy meal options that have Box Tops. The Box Tops for Education program makes it easy to give back to our homeschool co-op while shopping for the things we need for school. Many General Mills products have five Box Tops on them which is $0.50 back to our co-op.
During my years teaching public school, I remember how beneficial the Box Tops for Education Program was to our school. We were able to purchase supplies that would not have otherwise been available. As a homeschool parent, collecting Box Tops is even more crucial for our co-op.

We attend a weekly co-op during the school year that offers classes, activities, and field trips for the kids just like a public school would offer. I'm even teaching at our co-op again this year. Since we don't receive money from outside sources, fundraisers like Box Tops for Education help our co-op afford things like science materials, microscopes, supplies for the classrooms, and other materials for the students. One of the board members said it best when she mentioned, "Box Tops may not seem like a big contribution, but they do add up and are very important to help with the needs of our co-op." Does your family collect Box Tops for your school or co-op?
The kids and I recently discovered the BIG breakfast trend--smoothie bowls. They're a breakfast option that is easy to prepare, delicious, and packed with nutrition. We used some of the General Mills products with Box Tops to make a smoothie bowl recipe loaded with fresh berries, filled with protein, and covered in tasty toppings. Have you made or tried any smoothie bowl recipes? How did you like them?
Keep reading to see how to prepare this quick and delicious breakfast for your kids. You'll be supporting your child's school while giving them a nutritional start to their day! We moms are THE BEST at multitasking, aren't we?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Furniture Flips & Room Remodels / Oh, and Weekly Link Party!

I am always making changes to our home. Sometimes it's BIG changes like painting cabinets, putting up tile, or adding chair rail and a chalk wall to completely remodel a space--still on a budget. Sometimes it's redoing a room with a new rug, bedding, or accessories. Other times it's simply changing up one feature like the mantle. Can we ever truthfully call our homes DONE?

Is your home constantly evolving and changing too?  Maybe you've been wanting to make some changes to your home, but you just aren't sure where to start. Well, the posts featured below have some fantastic ideas for you. Whether it's refreshing an entire room or just painting one piece of furniture, these furniture flips and room redos are sure to give you inspiration for your own home.

1. Chippy Glam Dresser Makeover / Lolly Jane Blog
What's not to love about chippy white paint and gorgeous gold handles?!

2. Stain a Laminate Topped Table / Timeless Creations, LLC
Don't throw out that old table for a new one. Just paint it! Visit this mother-daughter duo to see how they gave their laminate table a makeover

3. DIY Mirrored Console Table / Anika's DIY Life
What a gorgeous table! And it was built from scratch for under $150.

4. Easy Vanity Update / The Weathered Fox
Transform a vanity with a painted wood look. This is proof that you don't need a big budget to achieve stunning results!

5. Fireplace Makeover / Love, Create, Celebrate
Easy and cheap! That seems to be a common thread for all of these projects. And this mantle redo is no exception!

6. Craft Room Refresh / Lolly Jane Blog
Don't miss checking out this amazing craft room. I would certainly be inspired to create in this impressive space. Wouldn't you?
Now it's time for...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

DIY: Magnolia Wreath (for less than $15)

Magnolia wreaths are a simply gorgeous addition to any home decor. Being from the South, I've long been a fan of those large, dark leaves from the majestic Magnolia trees indigenous to the area. The foliage is perfect for creating a wreath that is simple but also impactful in a space.

Magnolia wreaths have become increasingly popular with the rise of the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper. I've been admiring the trademark Magnolia Wreath from Joanna Gaines's Magnolia Market for awhile now, but just haven't been able to get past the $95 price tag. Oh, and don't forget shipping! it what you'd like. This stay at home mama with three kids is not about to plop down $100 on a wreath--no matter how gorgeous it is.
What's the solution to getting a Magnolia wreath on a small budget? Why, make your own, of course! Inspired by these talented ladies, I decided to do just that. And the best part is I did it for under $15. Keep reading to see how to easily make your own Magnolia wreath in less than 10 minutes...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Unique Repurposing Projects & A Little Bird Told Me Link Party #186

Clothespins into coasters! Coffee filters into a wreath! These projects all have one thing in common. They involve taking an ordinary item and repurposing it into something new and unique.

I've always loved repurposed projects! That's why I've done things like turning paint chips into a puzzle for the kids, using glass Starbucks containers for drinkware, transforming baby food jars into pincushions/sewing kits, and sewing cutouts from a vintage map together to create a garland.

It's exciting to see the potential in an item that might otherwise be cast away and turning it into something useful. That's just what these bloggers have done in the projects shown below! Their ideas might just have you rethinking the potential behind that old item you're about to throw out. Which of these creative DIY projects would you try for your home?

1. Felt Wall Organizer / Love Create Celebrate
That's an old photo frame that's been turned into an organizer perfect for a kitchen command station or entryway! Awesome!

2. DIY Trivets / The Country Chic Cottage
Clothespins become useful trivets in this unique craft. Oh, and there's a video to show you just how to try this for yourself.

3. Coffee Filter Wreath / The Organized Dream
You know those coffee filters you have lying around that you aren't using due to the oh so popular k-cups? Don't throw them out! Use them to make a whimsical wreath for the living room or any room in your home.

4. Triangle Pallet Planters / Love Create Celebrate
The wood from pallets can be used in so many projects. See how these were used to make outdoor planters.

5. DIY Superhero Globe / Lolly Jane Blog
Vintage comic books and an old globe come together to make a fun decoration for the little superhero living in your home.

Now it's time for...